Warming up, yet waking up…?

Executive Summary…

• Americans’ belief in the reality of global warming has increased by 13 percentage points over the past two and a half years, from 57 percent in January 2010 to 70 percent in September 2012.

• At the same time, the number of Americans who say global warming is not happening has declined nearly by half, from 20 percent in January 2010 to 12 percent today.

• Those who believe global warming is happening are more certain than those who do not. Over half of Americans who believe global warming is happening (57%) say they are “very” (30%) or “extremely sure” (27%).

• By contrast, for the first time since 2008, fewer than 50 percent of the unconvinced are very (27%) or extremely sure of their view (15%), a decrease of 15 percentage points since March 2012.

• For the first time since 2008, more than half of Americans (54%) believe global warming is caused mostly by human activities, an increase of 8 points since March 2012. The proportion of Americans who say it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment has declined to 30 percent (from 37% in March).

• For the first time since November 2008, Americans are more likely to believe most scientists agree that global warming is happening than believe there is disagreement on the subject (44% versus 36%, respectively). This is an increase of 9 points since March 2012.

• Today over half of Americans (58%) say they are “somewhat” or “very worried” – now at its highest level since November 2008.

• Americans increasingly perceive global warming as a threat to themselves (42%, up 13 points since March 2012), their families (46%, up 13 points), and/or people in their communities (48%, up 14 percentage points).

• Global warming is also perceived as a growing threat to people in the United States (57%, up 11 points since March 2012), in other modern industrialized countries (57%, up 8 points since March), and in developing countries (64%, up 12 points since March).

• A growing number of Americans believe global warming is already harming people both at home and abroad. Four in ten say people around the world are being harmed right now by climate change (40%, up 8 percentage points since March 2012), while 36 percent say global warming is currently harming people in the United States (up 6 points since March).

• Three out of four Americans (76%) say they trust climate scientists as a source of information about global warming, making them the most trusted source asked about in the survey. Scientists (who do not specialize in climate) are also trusted by a majority of Americans (67%), as are TV weather reporters (60%).

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