December 7th, 2009
04:01 PM ET
8 years ago

CNN Poll: Skepticism on global warming heating up?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="CNN Poll: Skepticism on global warming heating up?."]
Washington (CNN) - A rise in skepticism among Americans over global warming is mostly due to changes among Republicans, according to new national poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Monday, indicates that two-thirds of all Americans believe global warming is a proven fact. That's down eight points since June of 2008, with views among Democrats holding steady while Republicans' belief in global warming dropping 11 points.

Full results (pdf)

"The growing skepticism among Republicans, with no matching shift among Democrats, suggests that the changes measured in this poll may be a reaction to having a Democrat in the White House rather than a shift in underlying attitudes toward global warming," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The poll's release come as a United Nations climate summit opened in Copenhagen, Denmark. That global conference began under a cloud of accusations, after international attention the past two weeks over hacked e-mails that suggest some scientists faked data to support the argument of global warming. But Holland notes that polls released last month from other organizations have found similar shifts in views on global warming for several months. He says that indicates the changes in the new CNN survey are not the direct result of the media attention to the leaked e-mails from climate researchers.

iReport: Share your thoughts on climate change.

According to the survey, roughly a third of the people who believe in global warming think it is due to natural causes, rather than manmade causes such as industrial emissions. As a result, the number who say that global warming is caused by humans has dropped from 54 percent last summer to 45 percent now.

The poll indicates the number who say the U.S. should reduce emissions even if other countries do not follow suit has also dropped, from 66 percent in 2007 to 58 percent today.

"That drop is due to roughly equal changes among Republicans and Democrats, suggesting that economic conditions, rather than political factors, may be at play," noted Holland.

Why do a majority support lowering emissions when most Americans no longer think emissions cause global warming? "Americans may have other reasons to support a reduction in carbon dioxide and other gases," Holland says. "Pollution is pollution, and the country has been worried about clean air long before global warming became a topic of discussion."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 2-3, with 1,041 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percent for the overall sample.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: CNN poll • Global Warming • Popular Posts
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. Brian

    Global warming is real, but its not caused by humans. History lesson: The Vikings lived on Greenland, starting a thousand years ago, for nearly two hundred years before the earth plunged into an ice age. We are still coming out of it. Why did the Vikings call it Greenland???

    The oldest trick in using statistics to lie is to only show a part of the picture (such as earth's tempature since 1900). The further back in time you go, the clearer the lie is exposed.

    Also, if you listen to the news, you'll learn that there is a vast Global Warning conspiracy to falsify data. The emperor's new clothes have been revealed.

    December 7, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    So, because on group of scientists cooked the books to get more credit or funding or whatever, all of the rest of the scientists who study this problem are also wrong? Puhleez. I can use that same logic and state that because one republican voted for healthcare reform, all republicans must be for healthcare reform. Y'all really need to see beyond your little parochial, easily manipulated opinions and take a look around at what virtually every climate scientist on the planet, except those funded by the oil and coal industry, agree on. Have a nice day!

    December 7, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. AP in Illinois

    Known facts:

    1) The sky is blue.
    2) The earth is round and revolves around the sun.
    3) Evolution is happening.
    4) Climate change based on man-made factors is occuring.

    All are scientific facts. If you don't believe any of these, then you have a problem with science which is based on obsevable facts and repeatable experimentation.

    Global climate change is what Al Gore calls an unpleasant truth. Ignoring it or worse denying it won't change any of the facts.

    December 7, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  4. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Global warming is real and shouldn't be scored politically. It is everyones personal responsibility to preserve the planet will live on which we are responsible for destroying.

    December 7, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Steve

    Every time I hear a new poll my heart sinks. Are we really all so fickle? One month we all agree global warming is happening, the next month we've changed our mind. Just a few months ago Obama was the man that could change everything, and now only half the country thinks so, according to these polls. Is it because people are so dependent of the media to tell them what to think these days? We're quick to accuse politicians of flip-flopping but we seem to do it on a daily basis!

    December 7, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. Ken


    Open your eyes. It is a republican thing. Like who the global warming who don't believer in global warmng and a great majority are republicans. So, it is a republican thing.

    The scam is the deniers. The line that Al Gore has made millions on this is right out of the right-wing play book. Al Gore has been a champion of the enviremental causes for 25 years.

    Most people with common sense can see that since the industrial revolution the earth has warmed quite a bit.

    December 7, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  7. Audrey in VA

    I think most people acknowledge there is global warming, but they are skeptical about "science" that is politicized. Just like big oil companies have an interest in debunking global warming, there are people on the left who profit immensely from the green movement. Its disconcerting that scientists agree to privilege certain data and manipulate data, but at least this scandal has exposed that its not just the political right which has an agenda.

    December 7, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. inMD

    No, it is not a reaction to a Democrat being in the White House but rather a reaction to the Global Warming email scandal. I think you should poll those Democrats to see if they even know about the scandal.

    Bad week for Gore, his whole Global Warming push is debunked by the very internet he invented.

    December 7, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. Drew

    This all a bunch of BS. I guess we stopped teaching geography and history. When I was growing up, we learned how the earth has gone through many changes in the last billions of years. We want to take a snapshot in time and try to freeze it. This is wrong on so many levels.

    It is time the Government start repealing this stuff. I don't want to pollute the earth, but if we look the earth pollutes itself and seems to clean it up.
    Examples: Volcanoes, fissures in the ocean spewing oil and poisonous gases, trees processing CO2.

    December 7, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Me

    When it stops snowing in Chicago I will beleave it

    December 7, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Tom Paine

    Hello, the temperature is going down...

    CO2 is a trailing, not leading indicator of global warming.

    The whole thing is farce, the ntersection of Liberal politics and new age religion

    December 7, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. Fred Hopson

    AGW is just another fake religion invented for the same reason all the others were – to enslave people.

    December 7, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. Mike from Pekin, IL

    Is the world going through a warming trend? Yes. Is Industrialization responsible for it? probably in part. however, the earth has in its lifetime been both much, much warmer, and much, much colder. The fact is that the earth is pretty good at regulating itself. As temperature increases, so does cloud cover, due to increased moisture in the air. Cloud cover reflects solar radiationn back out into space (otherwise it would get hotter on overcast days. Yes, it also holds heat in that is already there (cloudy nights are warmer than clear nights, generally.) However, with all things, there is a moderating effect. We certainly need to address the pollutants we put into the atmosphere, but we have to do so in an intelligent and measured fashion.

    If you are here screaming about global warming, tell me, how many solar panels to you have on your roof? When did you install your geo-thermal heat pump system. What kid of fuel mileage does your car get? How far do you live from work? How big is your house in the first place? Alll of these affect energy consumption and green-house gas emmissions. What have you done personally to address the problem? Still using incandescent lights? How many stings of lights have you hung on your house for the holidays?

    December 7, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  14. Skeeve

    I wonder.. what percentage of people on either side is actually have basic training to UNDERSTAND science.... Considering level of math proficiency in this country I venture to guess that it is about 5%.. and it is VERY optimistic estimate too... yet somehow all these people believe that they have a right to have an opinion...

    December 7, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. JT Dale the college freshman

    I think whether or not you believe in global warming, can we at least agree that we need a clean enviornment?
    Can we at least agree that we need to become energy independent?
    Can we at least agree that we need to greatly reduce the CO2 emmisions to help clean up the air we breathe?
    Can we at least agree that we need to set the seeds now, so that future generations can have a clean environment to live in?
    Do you know how much our status here and around the world will skyrocket if we achieve those?
    We truly could be the greatest nation this earth has ever seen and will ever see. I believe that America has yet to see its finest generation of people. Lets get to work, and make that a reality.

    December 7, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  16. Pat Cawley

    The data supports that climate change is indeed going on, but what it doesn't support is that humanity has played a significant role. There is too much time and too little data to predict how our climate will react based on the past.
    In addition, it looks as though our scientific comunity has been biased toward blaming climate change on society. This is evidenced by the willfull suppression of scientific data and opinion if you don't agree with the 'main-stream' view of man-caused global warming.

    December 7, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. Kurt Thomas

    The people who dispute global warming are the same folks who believe we didn't land on the moon or that 9/11 was a inside job.
    These people are the irrelevant and uneducated fringe.

    December 7, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  18. John Lubeck

    The same people who insist there is no global warming also insist that "intelligent design" and not evolution is responsible for mankind. The same people that insist there is no global warming also insist that rampant pollution is "good" for America that stopping pollution somehow hurts the economy. The same people that insist there is no global warming think that George Bush was an intelligent, competent and honest leader.

    December 7, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. Nadai

    People, Wake up! This Climate Change debate is a scam for profit. To hide information from scientists who refute the status quo is undemocratic! Let's hear from the other side, and then make your decision. Between the thousands of private jets and limos descending on Copenhagen this week (talk about hyprocasy run amok) the carbon footprint of the elite says it all.

    December 7, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. Dan, TX

    As a scientist, I know clearly global warming is occurring and is dramatically being affected by man. But let's simply admit that it is our children's problem, not ours.

    December 7, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  21. Andi

    Only a complete FOOL would believe Al Gore about anything. Global warming is a CROCK based on bogus data. There are plenty of scientists that have proof that it's false. And when the scientific community starts pushing their own out of their jobs and out of their laboratories because they "don't agree with the status quo" then obviously something is very wrong. What are they hiding that they can't allow dissenters to be heard? Oh yea, their LIES! The leaked emails are only the beginning. As I told a Greenpeace rep only an hour ago, "YOUR LIES WILL BE EXPOSED AS WELL! COUNT ON IT!" The truth always comes out.

    December 7, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  22. mike

    the average reading level in our country is sixth grade one of the most
    popular tv shows is dancing with the stars do you think the average
    american can even begin to make any reasonable remark against any
    E mail I don't think tom delay can dance around this one let alone the
    republicans this is way out of there league grow up and smell the
    coffee who do you think stole the E mails its all in the timing

    December 7, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. Dean

    Sure the GOP numbers have dropped, why Rush said its all a farse this global warming thing. It's a shame the republicans listen to someone like Rush over a science professional

    December 7, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. Carl

    People do not deny climate change. It's natural and always occuring throughout history.

    Not one person can deny the need to help clean up the environment or reduce known emissions to make things cleaner.

    HOWEVER, the fascist scare tactics have to stop. In terms of style points, this goes right up there with 1930s Germany and post-9/11 security in the US with the Patriot Act.

    In all seriousness, look back to the little ice age or how you could grow wine in England back 1,000 years ago because the climate was so warm and borderline tropical.

    One day, maybe when we are here, the magnetic poles will shift and change EVERYTHING. What then? Humans did it?

    December 7, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  25. Torch

    Anyone who believes the Global Warming Climate Change garbage is affecting the planet cannot be taken very seriously. It's like a weatherman telling you what the weather is going to be like decades in advance. Would you believe them? Any rational person would not.

    Also, let's say that Al Gore is right? Well, then you also have the problem of truly believing that you could do something about it. That is arrogant and absurd as well. Man, cannot and will not ever be able to control Nature. Just because some climate nazi's want no CO2 does not mean that it will solve the problem.

    When you now throw in the FACT, that the data was twisted to meet a political point, and that the likes of Al and others stand to profit in the millions of dollars if this garbage is inacted, has to make any rational person have a cause for pause and really think about what is motivating this entire thing. It's not in the interest of climate change folks, like the healthcare debate, it's about money and control.

    It stinks, and it's the biggest LIE in mankind. May it die in defeat and may those responsible for this be punished.

    December 7, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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