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Global warming: 72 percent of Americans say it's real, poll finds

By / November 25, 2009

Two researchers from the Norwegian Polar institute measure ice thickness at the Fram Straits in Greenland. As the world climate summit closes in, scientists monitoring the impact of global warming in the icy far north have grown frustrated by public apathy and disbelief about the extent of the problem.

AFP PHOTO/Norwegian Polar Institute/NEWSCOM

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Amid all the controversy about the hacked e-mails of climate scientists comes an ABC-Washington Post poll that says a majority of Americans believe that global warming is happening and that a cap on greenhouse gases should be imposed nationally.

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That's a drop of 8 percentage points (thanks, Don!) compared with those believed in global warming a year ago (and a drop of 12 percentage points over the past three years). Juliet Eilperin of The Post explains the change in numbers this way:

The increase in climate skepticism is driven largely by a shift within the GOP. Since its peak 3 1/2 years ago, belief that climate change is happening is down sharply among Republicans -- 76 to 54 percent -- and independents -- 86 to 71 percent. It dipped more modestly among Democrats, from 92 to 86 percent. A majority of respondents still support legislation to cap emissions and trade pollution allowances, by 53 to 42 percent.

Among Democrats, 86 percent believe the world has been getting warmer (down 6 percentage points from 2006).  Among Independents, believers number 71 percent (15 percentage points less than three years ago). A scant majority of Republicans also believe: 54 percent (22 percentage points less than in 2006).

Seventy-five percent of respondents 18 to 29 think that global warming is happening; along with 72 percent of those 30  to 64, and 68 percent of those over 65.

College grads were more likely to be believers that non-grads, 77 to 70 percent.

You can read the all the other questions that were asked and see the graphics about the poll answers here.

There was a Pew Research poll last month that had fewer people believing in climate change and more skeptics.

Will these changing attitudes have any effect on what happens at the upcoming climate-change conference in Copenhagen?

Politics Daily notes:

President Obama plans to go to Copenhagen next week to attend the early rounds of a U.N. climate summit, which is drawing delegations from 192 countries. Fifty-five percent of Americans believe that the U.S. should act on global warming even if other countries do less; 21 percent say the U.S. should take action only if other countries do; and 22 percent say the U.S. should not take action at all, according to the Post/ABC poll.

Editor’s note: For articles about the environment, see the Monitor’s main environment page, which offers information on many topics. Also, check out our Bright Green blog archive and our RSS feed.

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