Americans More Confused About Climate Than Ever

Image courtesy of Gallup.

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


How effective has the resurgence of the climate denial machine been? Look no farther than the latest Gallup poll on American attitudes on global warming, which found significant declines in public concern about the topic.

Forty-eight percent of Americans now believe that the “seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated,” up from 41 percent last year and 31 percent in 1997. “[T]he percentage of Americans who now say reports of global warming are generally exaggerated is by a significant margin the highest such reading in the 13-year history of asking the question,” Gallup notes.

The majority of Americans still believe that global warming is happening, and 53 percent say the effects of the problem have already begun or will do so in a few years. But the number of people who think climate change is caused by human activity has dropped – from 61 percent in 2003 to 50 percent today. The percentage of people who believe that global warming is “going to affect them or their way of life in their lifetimes” has dropped to 32 percent, down from 40 percent in 2008.

The results clearly show the American public’s skewed perception of climate science, thanks in large part to the “scandals” generated in recent months by climate skeptics. Now, only about half of Americans say that “most scientists believe that global warming is occurring,” a drop from 65 percent in recent years. A full 36 percent of Americans think that scientists are “unsure about global warming,” and another 10 percent say that most scientists believe global warming isn’t occurring. In reality, the consensus is pretty darn clear among climate experts.

I’m not going to get too bent out of shape about this new poll, as Americans have been confused about climate for a quite a while, and at the same time, they’ve grown more supportive of efforts to address it. But this one is a good reminder of how much havoc the skeptics have wreaked in a very short time.

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate