After fluctuating for the last two decades, Americans’ concern over global warming has hit an all-time high.
Sixty-eight percent of Americans believe human activity is causing global warming and 45 percent report “worrying a great deal” about it. Just two years ago, 55 percent believed humans were causing it and only 32 percent worried a great deal.
The survey, conducted by Gallup, has tracked Americans’ perceptions of global warming every March. The previous high of people saying they worry about global warming was 41 percent, recorded in 2007. The low point was 25 percent, recorded as recently as 2011.
Gallup notes that several cultural and news events have influenced perceptions of global warming, causing the fluctuations in concern over its various aspects. Several current events could be responsible for the rise in this year’s figures, obtained via survey from March 1-5.
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President Donald Trump has suggested climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese, and appointed Scott Pruitt, who questions the established scientific fact that humans are contributing to the planet’s warming, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. In a separate Gallup poll, 57 percent of Americans said Trump would do a poor job of protecting the environment.
Last week, Pruitt caused controversy by suggesting carbon dioxide emissions are are the primary cause of climate change. He said “there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact” from carbon dioxide and said “we need to continue the debate, continue the review and the analysis.” The Washington Post reported that calls to the EPA chief’s phone line reached such volume the department created an impromptu call center, and two days later, calls were sent directly to voice mail, which had a full inbox.
Sixty-two percent of Americans believe the effects of global warming have already started. Only 9 percent say there will never be effects.
Gallup’s survey was also taken immediately following the second warmest February on record, during which many areas of the country experienced irregular temperatures and a lack of snow cover. Poll figures had also increased in last year’s survey, which similarly came following an abnormally warm February.
Other events have caused Americans to report growing concern over global warming in the past. The 2006 release of documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” saw a spike in Americans reporting concern over the issue. Such sentiment had also been on the rise following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which caused debate over whether climate change was causing extreme weather.