Trends in American Public Opinion on Global Warming Policies Between 2010 and 2012
Washington, D.C. - Two sets of events in 2011 and early 2012 might have caused a drop in the proportion of Americans who endorse policies intended to reduce future global warming: (1) the fact that 2011 was an unusually cool year in terms of world-wide average temperatures, and (2) statements by most candidates running for the Republican Party’s nomination for President expressing skepticism about the existence of climate change, the role of human activity in causing it, or the wisdom of implementing policies to curtail it.
A comparison of surveys conducted with nationally representative samples of American adults in 2010 and 2012 revealed that: (1) majorities of Americans wanted government to take specific actions to mitigate the effects of global warming in 2010 and 2012, (2) the proportions of people favoring government action declined by 5 percentage points per year on average between 2010 and 2012, and (3) the declines were concentrated among people who did not trust environmental scientists (even more so among Republicans than among Democrats and Independents). No evidence supported the hypothesis that people living in states with economies that were struggling more manifested larger declines in policy endorsement. Thus, American public endorsement of many policies intended to reduce future warming dropped but remains high.
Jon Krosnick is a frequent collaborator with Ipsos Public Affairs on methodological and public opinion issues. Prof. Krosnick is a professor of communication, political science and psychology at Stanford University and University Fellow at Resources for the Future.
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Research Director, Public Sector Practice
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