December 7th, 2009
04:01 PM ET
9 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. LeAnn Harris

    I saw a documentary showing that on one coast of antartica the ice is receeding and on the opposite coast it is expanding. Maybe the earth's axis has changed enough to create warming in some areas and cooling in others. Maybe it was a result of nucear bombs knocking us off our axis.

    December 7, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. Matt

    We have 650,000 years worth of global temperature and CO2 data. When ever CO2 goes up, temperature follows. CO2 density is currently at its highest concentration in 650,000 years. The question you have to ask yourself is, do you even want to chance having to live through the hottest period on earth in 650,000 years.

    December 7, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. Clayton

    How do you tax something? You have to first quantify it, then determine there is a Govt requirement to regulate it. That is why C02 (that nasty stuff that plants need to live and we exhale) has been labled and greenhouse gas and a threat. Cars emit X number of tons of it and so do buildings. Now all we have to do is attach a dollar amount to those number and Bingo we have our new tax rate for what used to be free. Govt get paid more for doing nothing.

    December 7, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  4. John

    One should read Michael Crichton's presentation at Caltech in 2003, titled, 'Alians Cause Global Warming'.........the issue at hand is consensus science not real science based on facts......

    December 7, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. DargonSilver

    If human-caused climate change turned out to not be true, I would be disappointed. Don't read me wrong, though- I would be disappointed because I know that a large percentage of Americans would continue treating our planet like a great big ball of never-ending resources and insane resilience. At least if everyone felt a little climate change guilt, we might change our habits as a whole society. Exonerate the guilt climate change, and all the "non-hippies" will go on raping the resources.

    December 7, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. Steve (the real one)

    One thing is for certain: Anyone posting on this board, that claims to
    know DEFINITIVELY one way or another, regarding the impact or non-impact of human activities on climate change, can immediately be rendered incredible
    Although I posted my thoughts, i actually agree with you with one caveat. That your statement would apply to "scientists, theorists (like Al Gore) who are getting filhty rich as well as governmenes who will soon or at least are considering destroying their economies over a THEORY! According to the EU just today, China and the US are under pressure to do more to destroy their economies over this theory!

    December 7, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. huladeb

    Well, it may be that Republicans are more inclined to be skeptical about global warming. Republicans are more likely to reason through problems than to glom onto political ideology and hang on no matter what facts come your way.

    And now, we find that not only do they believe easily, but they try to manipulate publications and communication to distort the truth in order to lead others astray. Shut out all dissenting voices when you can't trust your own voice to survive the truth.

    December 7, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. Wayne

    So, it is possible to believe that we can pump all that waste into the atmosphere over a relatively short period of time and there will be no effect on the environment. So, we can locate a dozen or so scientists who view the data contrary to the many hundreds who are convinced that the trends are clear.....that makes me feel better. So, you can feel convinced that there are no long term changes because.....ah.....the weather in your home town is cold today!!!

    I hope you all are correct because when it comes time to say "I told you so" it might just be too late.

    As a scientist and statistician......the data seems to be compelling. But, what do I know? Here is what I do cannot pick and choose selectively amongst all the data available just because you want to stick a bone in the eye of liberals. I know many conservatives and liberals who believe and a few in both camps who do not. This does not seem to be a ideological battle to me and we ought not to make it one.

    December 7, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. Harvey D

    The point is to just give a damn about Earth! Is it that hard to recycle and just keep a tab on how your individual efforts affect our planet?

    December 7, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. John

    The physics of global warming is too simple to be completely wrong (and I'm a physicist). The only question is, how right is it?

    People of good will can disagree honorably about many things, but not about the fact (and it is a fact) that if you spew enough IR-absorbing crud into the air, the air eventually gets hotter. The things we don't know are how hot, how fast, and what we're prepared to do about it. Your grandchildren's quality of life will depend on the answers.

    December 7, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. B

    I suppose that it is politics that is melting the glaciers globally and raising the sea levels along with weather changes..
    It really does not matter politically, it is about science and is happening so, if we choose to ignore it, it will be to our regret globally in the long run.
    Then we can decide politically who to blame... right ?

    December 7, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Ancient Texan

    I'll go with the 31,072 Scientist that signed a petition stating that Al Gore's "sky is falling" scam is a gross exaggeration. Sure the ice is melting. It started the day the ice age ended. Cap and Tax will finish bankrupting the Nation.

    December 7, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. Glenn

    It's easy to ignore the fact that in only one hundred year, the world population increased by 5 billion people, and that we almost have burned up all fossil fuels of more than millions year old.
    But of course, the deniers only believe in a world that is 6000 years old, and we have lived together with dinosaurs.
    I believe in Global Warming because I'm studying science in school. The deniers will probably say I'm brainwashed by this 'liberal' school. While I actually go to a Catholic school in Europe.
    Those leaked e-mails don't change anything at all. Global Warming is still a fact.
    But they are seen as the definitive proof Global Warming is a hoax. By the republicans, GOP, Fox News, but even CNN is imputing.
    I can't believe the world had to wait for 8 years for a man that finally wants to change something (Barack Obama).

    December 7, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. matt

    "If the skepticism over the heliocentric model of the solar system were to heat up, would it be appropriate to bring back Ptolemaic astronomy? In scientific matters of controversy, I think it's important to give a little more credence to those who know what they're talking about, and a little less to those with a political axe to grind, or a penury conflict of interest (or both)."

    You would be right if it weren't for the fact that politics is the driving force behind the scientific viewpoints that have become mainstream.

    You can't get a grant to study the climate without already being on the AGW bandwagon. So how many scientists do you expect to bite the hand that's feeding them? ..and we now have evidence that the peer-review process has been rigged to shut-out anyone who doesn't agree.

    You're living in a fantasy world if you think politics doesn't have a lot to do with the so-called consensus that we keep hearing about.

    December 7, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. Evert

    The "skepticism" is solely an American phenomenon resulting from the option to reality of the previous administration, the Republican party, and the conservatively tainted news organizations FOX News and Clear Channel radio, The rest of the world understands the issue because they are experiencing the affects of "global warming" first hand.

    December 7, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. di0nysus

    Regardless of whether the earth is warming or cooling or who or what is causing it, there is nothing wrong with cleaning our air and producing our own energy ourselves. Would you rather pay more and more every year for coal plants that give us cancer rather than using solar panels and wind to power you cars and houses? This is a no brainer. Call me a socialist if you want because I for one don't want to keep seeing my electric bills and natural gas bills rising when there is an alternative of a one a time cost for clean energy so my kids won't be getting chronic sickness or cancer. At some point green energy will be on par with coal or whatever else is out there to power our lives. Then the majority will jump on board.

    Yes the Earth cooled and warmed before. Regardless we live in this world and we need to do what is best to adapt. Who cares what is causing it, if there is going to be flooding when Greenland melts, does it matter if it was China or the U.S. that caused it?

    December 7, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. Sam

    Climatologists receive grant money from various sources for the amount of perceived importance is placed upon their work, like all reseachers. Therefore, it is in their best financial and professional interests for the data to indicate that a human caused climate change is taking place. I would like to see the number figure on the grant increases in the last decade and a half in that field.

    Looking back on world history, the periods with the warmest climates have also produced and sustained the largest and most diverse groups of species. The longer growing periods produces more plant life, in turn creating more food for other organisms. If the effects of global warming are irreversible, I prefer to look at the glass half full!

    December 7, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Ditto Heads are the current day lemmings of the planet. Willing to follow the "leaders" who have sent them charging toward the climatic abyss...
    Now, I wouldn't care a snit, except for the fact that we are tied inextricably from these morons – which fall into two groups:
    1) We have enough power and finance to take care of ourselves, no matter what happens to the planet, so lets go out there and make a big, BIG BIG pile of money.
    2) We are fellow Republicans, no matter what happens, our Republican brethren will not let amything happen to us... Surely they would not lead US astray, just to make more money, and SURELY, if something went wrong, they would save US!!! We're REPUBLICANS for God's sake.

    Neither faction allows for the other, and in the final analysis, both will drag us all into the dustbin of history, and then, even the history book will disappear...

    UNLESS, we can stop them.

    December 7, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. Barbara

    The comments posted here explain to me why people refuse to accept that the earth is warming. It is snowing, so the science must be wrong? A conspiracy to rob us of money?

    Global warming doesn't mean we are all going to live in the tropics. it just means that the average global temperature is expected to shift by a FEW DEGREES. But those few degrees, when applied year after year means a melting ice cap. The reduction of the ice cap alone has an effect upon our global climate. Water levels, ocean currents, air currents. The weather of the world is like a big engine and the ice caps are a major component of that engine.

    The reduction of the mass of the ice caps is not "fake science". Numerous reliable groups have physically measured the ice. There are satellite photos. There are towns falling into the sea. And the ice caps are just one piece of the evidence and problem if global warming.

    Argue all you want about how much mankind is impacting it versus a natural cycle of the earth, but don't deny the warming trend. That is just avoiding un unpleasant truth. And that is just foolish.

    December 7, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. Drew

    Why is everyone so black and white on everything....or should I say Rep and Dem...

    look....just because the earth has warmed naturally in the past doesn't mean that EVERYTIME it warms it is natural...

    I'm sure if scientists could travel back in time to one of those past warming moments they would all conclude "The earth was closer to the sun during its orbit and that caused the warming" or "A meteor landed in the rain forest and burned up every living thing, releasing x tons of green house gases, and that caused the warming"

    who knows, I'm sure every warming event had its own factors....the important thing here is THIS warming event...and the factors causing THIS warming event....and the evidence is overwhelming that the warming is caused by the excess green house gases in the air....and the green house gases are being produced by man, not a natural event...


    December 7, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  21. Hugo

    Okay Global Climate Warming Cooling Carbon Credit minions, here are the questions for today's Science lesson. Question 1: How much CO2 is released into the atmosphere from a (1) Volcanic eruption or (2) Nuclear bomb ? Question 2: What is the mass balance equation for the quantity of CO2 to remain dissolved in solution for all the waterbodies of the world? Man does not control nature he is merely a strand in the web... but how can I make a profit you may ask?

    December 7, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  22. Frank

    Al Gore, what a joke. I saw him on TV speaking about how the center of the Earth is "millions" of degrees F. I know what you lemming like uneducated lefties are thinking, but he said it twice so he didn't "misspeak". Let's just say my 8 yr old daughter knows that is impossible and she most certainly didn't claim to create the internet. It would be so funny if it wasn't so sad this Nobel winner (don't even get me started on that too) has such a following. By the way, I'm an experienced college educated environmental scientist and a proud non believer in man made global warming.

    December 7, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. Fnord-a-saurus Rex

    Ugh, this argument is so stupid. What is there to lose by moving to green technologies? I guess a few things. Dependence on oil (foriegn or demestic), smog, the monopoly of energy companies. What do we have to gain? Jobs, free energy, the feeling of doing the right thing. We have to stop polluting, not because of global warming, but because we're pumping poisons into FOOD and AIR.
    All one has to do is look at scientific studies done in communities near coal plants to see the jump in cancer rates. It doesn't take an MIT scholar to see the connection.

    Can we just do the right thing for once.

    December 7, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  24. T Ciccone

    Even if one doesn't agree with global warming / climate change, this doesn't mean one shouldn't reduce carbon emissions. It's patently un-American and immoral to buy foreign oil from petro-dictatorships (think Venezula, Saudi Arabia) that use the money to keep their grip on power.

    Why not spend the money more responsibly and create jobs that stay at home by investing in renewable energy infrastructure?

    But no, the naysayers would have it that global warming is a hoax, so we should continue to pay the Saudis instead of create jobs at home.

    December 7, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  25. Objective Observer

    Republicans were more willing to accept the science when they had a fossil fuel hack in office willing to stop any initiatives to reduce emissions. Out of power, they now are prone to the persistent fear-mongering from their top media outlets telling them that reducing emission to will destroy the economy. So the notable shift among the right is not a surprise. This is a group that believes healthcare reform will result in government "death panels".

    December 7, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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