UCSF Sustainability Stories

Survey Says:  70 Percent of Americans Believe in the Reality of Global Warming

CoverA new survey shows that 70 percent of Americans believe in the reality of global warming.  George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communications and the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication conducted the survey to explore Americans’ attitudes and actions toward global warming.  Below are some highlights from the September 2012 report titled: Americans’ Actions to Limit Global Warming.
• The report shows that Americans’ beliefs about climate change have bounced back sharply from the decline witnessed between 2008 and 2010. Belief in the reality of global warming increased by 13 points since January 2010, to 70 percent in September 2012.  More than half of Americans (54 percent) believe global warming is caused mostly by human activities, an increase of 8 points since March 2012.

• Many Americans say people around the world (40 percent, up 8 points since March 2012) and people in the United States (36 percent, up 6 points since March) are being harmed right now by climate change, and Americans increasingly perceive global warming as a threat to themselves (42 percent, up 13 points since March), their families (46%, up 13 points), and other people in their community (48 percent, up 14 points).

• A majority of Americans say they “always” or “often” set their thermostat no higher than 68 degrees during the winter (53 percent), although this is below the highest level reported in November of 2008 (62 percent).

• Compact fluorescent light bulbs continue to be adopted by Americans, with 57% now reporting that most or all of the light bulbs in their home are CFLs - up from 40 percent in 2008.                                                         
• Americans have become less confident, however, that their individual actions to save energy will reduce their own contribution to global warming (32 percent, down 16 points since 2008).                                                 
• Three Americans in ten (32 percent) say that in the past 12 months they have given business to a company as a reward for their steps to reduce global warming. Nearly a quarter also say that in the past 12 months they have punished companies for opposing steps to reduce global warming by not purchasing their products (24 percent).

• About one in ten (12 percent) have contacted a government official about global warming by letter, email, or phone, while 15 percent have volunteered or donated money to an organization working to reduce global warming.