In a Year of Catastrophes, More Americans See Climate Changing

September 16, 2011


WASHINGTON, Sept 15 (Reuters) – More Americans than last year believe the world is warming and the change is likely influenced by the Republican presidential debates, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Thursday.

The percentage of Americans who believe the Earth has been warming rose to 83 percent from 75 percent last year in the poll conducted Sept 8-12.

U.S. Republican presidential candidates, aside from Jon Huntsman, have mostly blasted the idea that emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human actions are warming the planet.

The current front-runner, Texas Governor Rick Perry, has accused scientists of manipulating climate data while Michele Bachmann has said climate change is a hoax.

As Americans watch Republicans debate the issue, they are forced to mull over what they think about global warming, said Jon Krosnick, a political science professor at Stanford University.

And what they think is also influenced by reports this year that global temperatures in 2010 were tied with 2005 to be the warmest year since the 1880s.

This year has been a record year for the kind of costly weather disasters — including Hurricane Irene, which raked the East Coast — that scientists have warned would be more frequent with climate change.

The United States suffered 10 natural disasters in 2011 with economic losses of $1 billion or more, according to the National Weather Service.

Unlike many other issues that divide Republicans and Democratic voters, such as healthcare or how to deal with the deficit and debt, a majority of Americans from both major parties agree on global warming, the poll found. Some 72 percent of Republicans believe global warming is happening and 92 percent of Democrats do, it found.

Global warming could be an important issue in next year’s election, because some 15 percent of voters see it as their primary concern, said Krosnick, who is also a university fellow at the Resources for the Future think tank.

If President Barack Obama, a Democrat, can define himself as the environmental candidate, he could have a large advantage over a Republican, Krosnick said. If however, a Republican softens his or her stance on climate and Obama, who has failed to pass a climate bill in his first term, moves more to the center, it may not be a factor in the election.


8 Responses to “In a Year of Catastrophes, More Americans See Climate Changing”

  1. And Newt Gingrich is decisively equivocal. He doesn’t back down on his famous ad asserting the validity of the science, while scoring political points by claiming that Al Gore is wrong about how fast the Antarctic glaciers will melt.

  2. The continuing array of disastrous weather events (all predicted by scientists) has the public wondering. Perhaps another couple of years with floods, droughts of biblical proportions, and a nearly ice free arctic will hake Americans out of their hazy inertia, and demand action.

  3. rpauli Says:

    I am still trying to parse out that first line:

    “the world is warming and the change is likely influenced by the Republican presidential debates”

    Debates influence warming? Only presidential debates? Only Republicans?

  4. otter17 Says:

    My circle of influence is starting to take global warming much more seriously. I keep communicating that the Earth has already changed..

    • greenman3610 Says:

      as calamities mount, people will eventually get it. We will inevitably win the war of facts, but will we win in time to make a difference?
      Deniers hope not.

  5. Not to advertise, you understand, but I have compiled a list of all the Republican candidates and what they say about climate change (and evolution), for the purposes of informing the public of just how anti-science they (nearly) all are:

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