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Pew Research Center: The Politics of Climate

October 4, 2016
By Cary Funk and Brian Kennedy

Released on October 4, 2016, this Pew Research Center report measures the views of Americans on the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as energy policy.

polar ice caps

From the report: “Polarized views about climate issues stretch from the causes and cures for climate change, to trust in climate scientists and their research. But most Americans support a role for scientists in climate policy, and there is bipartisan support for expanding solar and wind energy.”

In other key findings from the report, the public:

Does not believe human activity is causing global warming. Less than half of Americans (48 percent) say “the Earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity.”

Does not believe the “97 percent consensus” meme. Just 27 percent of Americans say that “almost all” climate scientists hold human behavior responsible for climate change.

Does not think climate scientists have a good handle on the subject. Only 33 percent say climate scientists understand “whether climate change is occuring”; only 28 percent say climate scientists understand “the causes of climate change”; and only 19 percent say climate scientists understand “the best ways to address” climate change.

Does not trust climate scientists. Asked what influences research findings “most of the time,” the No. 1 answer is to “advance their careers” and the lowest answer is “concern for the public interest.”

Does not trust the media, and think they are unfairly blackballing skeptics. A plurality of Americans (42 percent) say the media “give too little attention to skeptics.”

Download a PDF of this report via the button above.