News Column

Most Americans Say Global Warming Is Real

November 14, 2013

Wendy Koch, @wendykoch, USA TODAY

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More and more Americans believe global warming poses an imminent danger (Jeff Swensen, Getty Images)

The vast majority of Americans in each of 40-plus states surveyed say global warming is real, serious and man-made -- and the concerns are higher in coastal and drought-stricken areas, says an analysis out today.

At least 75% of U.S. adults say global warming has been happening, but the Stanford University research found that 84% or more took that view in states recently hit by drought -- Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas -- or vulnerable to sea-level rise: Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

Despite intense debate in Congress on global warming, the research found broad public agreement on the issue and its remedies. Most say past warming has been caused largely by human activities -- ranging from a low of 65% in Utah to a high of 92% in Rhode Island. Most also back government curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants -- from 62% in Utah to 90% in New Hampshire.

"The consistency of findings across states was especially surprising to me," says author and professor Jon Krosnick, director of Stanford's Political Psychology Research Group, adding the analysis is likely the first to offer state-by-state breakdowns. He plans to release the findings today on Capitol Hill.

Krosnick says the data, based on 23 surveys -- mostly by Stanford -- suggest members of Congress who question global warming or oppose EPA power plant rules may not have an accurate view of what their constituents want.

"This is still a politically divisive issue," says Michael Dimock, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. He says just because most constituents want action doesn't mean a lawmaker's political base does. A national Pew poll last month found that while 67% of Americans say there's solid evidence the earth has been warming, the GOP is deeply divided. Just 25% of Tea Party Republicans say there's such evidence compared to 61% of other Republicans.

Stanford's analysis looks at opinion on 22 questions, some of which had sufficient data from all but four states -- Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota and Wyoming. It finds that in every state surveyed, most Americans support efforts to produce renewable energy and reduce air pollution from coal as well as boosting energy efficiency for cars and buildings.

Less popular were government policies to encourage the building of electric vehicles and nuclear power plants. Most unpopular were higher consumption taxes on electricity and gasoline.

Copyright 2013 USA TODAY

Source: Copyright 2013 USA TODAY

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