Gallup poll: last year – global warming concerns down, feelings of exaggeration up, this year – more steady

While Waxman and Markey continue to try to salvage the EPA in hearings on the hill, the public shift clearly says “we aren’t buying it anymore”. This quote from Gallup last year pretty much sums it up

“In a sharp turnaround from what Gallup found as recently as three years ago, Americans are now almost evenly split in their views of the cause of increases in the Earth’s temperature over the last century.”

Last year:

Americans’ Global Warming Concerns Continue to Drop

Multiple indicators show less concern, more feelings that global warming is exaggerated

by Frank Newport

PRINCETON, NJ — Gallup’s annual update on Americans’ attitudes toward the environment shows a public that over the last two years has become less worried about the threat of global warming, less convinced that its effects are already happening, and more likely to believe that scientists themselves are uncertain about its occurrence. In response to one key question, 48% of Americans now believe that the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated, up from 41% in 2009 and 31% in 1997, when Gallup first asked the question.

1997-2010 Trend: Percentage of Americans Who Believe the Seriousness of Global Warming Is Generally Exaggerated

These results are based on the annual Gallup Social Series Environment poll, conducted March 4-7 of this year. The survey results show that the reversal in Americans’ concerns about global warming that began last year has continued in 2010 — in some cases reverting to the levels recorded when Gallup began tracking global warming measures more than a decade ago.

This year:

More Than 4 in 10 Say Seriousness of Global Warming Is Exaggerated

The plurality of Americans continue to believe the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated in the news (43%) rather than generally correct (26%) or generally underestimated (29%). This is the third year in a row that a substantial plurality has believed global warming’s effects are not as bad as they are portrayed, a departure from prior years, when Americans were about evenly split between the three points of view. The percentage who think global warming’s effects are exaggerated is down a bit from last year.

2005-2011 Trend: Thinking about what is said in the news, in your view is the seriousness of global warming greatly exaggerated, generally correct, or is it generally underestimated?


Last year:

For example, the percentage of Americans who now say reports of global warming are generally exaggerated is by a significant margin the highest such reading in the 13-year history of asking the question. In 1997, 31% said global warming’s effects had been exaggerated; last year, 41% said the same, and this year the number is 48%.

Fewer Americans Think Effects of Global Warming Are Occurring

“In a sharp turnaround from what Gallup found as recently as three years ago, Americans are now almost evenly split in their views of the cause of increases in the Earth’s temperature over the last century.”

Many global warming activists have used film and photos of melting ice caps and glaciers, and the expanding reach of deserts, to drive home their point that global warming is already having alarming effects on the earth. While these efforts may have borne fruit over much of the 2000s, during the last two years, Americans’ convictions about global warming’s effects have waned.

A majority of Americans still agree that global warming is real, as 53% say the effects of the problem have already begun or will do so in a few years. That percentage is dwindling, however. The average American is now less convinced than at any time since 1997 that global warming’s effects have already begun or will begin shortly.

Meanwhile, 35% say that the effects of global warming either will never happen (19%) or will not happen in their lifetimes (16%).

The 19% figure is more than double the number who held this view in 1997.

1997-2010 Trend: When Will the Effects of Global Warming Begin to Happen?

This year:

While Americans’ self-professed understanding of global warming has increased over time — from 69% saying they understand the issue “very well” or “fairly well” in 2001, to 74% in 2006 and 80% in the current poll — their concern about global warming across several measures is generally in the lower range of what Gallup has found historically.

For example, 49% currently believe the effects of global warming have already begun to happen, similar to last year’s estimate and one point above the historical low from 1997. Just three years ago, 61% thought the effects were already occurring. Over the same time, the percentage doubting global warming’s effects will ever happen has increased, from 11% to nearly 20%, including 18% this year.

1997-2011 Trend: Views of When Global Warming Effects Will Begin to Happen


Last year:

Americans Divided on Causes of Global Warming

In a sharp turnaround from what Gallup found as recently as three years ago, Americans are now almost evenly split in their views of the cause of increases in the Earth’s temperature over the last century.

2003-2010 Trend: Are Increases in the Earth's Temperature Over the Last Century Due to Human Activities or Natural Changes?

This year:

2003-2011 Trend: And from what you have heard or read, do you believe increases in the Earth's temperature over the last century are due more to the effects of pollution from human activities or natural changes in the environment that are not due to human activities?

Read the entire poll story from 2010 here

…and from 2011 here


NOTE: The first published version of this article was incomplete and did not have comparisons from last year’s poll to this year as was intended. This was a consequence of have two browser windows open with editing capabilities, side by side, so I could do comparisons and then cut and paste portions, and the wrong one got published accidentally. My apologies for any confusion this may have caused in the 45 minutes or so the incomplete story was up.  – Anthony


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This means when I go out in public…
……half the people I see are crackers
REPLY: I’m sure they look at you the same way- Anthony

That’s a helluva of hockey stick. Me like.

Joe Lalonde

If they only knew how much “uncertainty” has been manipulated into a “sure thing”.
Climate science has absolutely no desire to look at this planets actual physical mechanics to understand how climate has a great deal of mechanical processes happening.


REPLY: I’m sure they look at you the same way- Anthony
I doubt it
They don’t seem to be that aware………………
REPLY: But not delusional.


Did not Lincoln say something about not being able to fool all of the people all of the time?
Looks like he was on the money.

golf charley

Joe Romm has a slightly different spin on this Poll!
REPLY: Well, that’s what the Center for American Progress pays him for, “spin”. – Anthony


That last question is very poorly worded. Most scientists clearly accept that the world has warmed, the question is the attributed cause. They should be asking the public:
Just your impression, which one of the following statements do you think is most accurate — most scientists agree that humans are the primary cause or the largest cause for global warming, or most scientists do not agree on what the primary cause is, or most scientists agree that human emissions are not the primary cause.


People recognize rationizations when they see them. First it was heavy snow was caused by global warming then it was earthquakes that could be related to global warming. By tieing every big event to a single cause with some sort of “scientific justification” credibility goes out the window. The conformists are shooting themselves in the foot with a machine gun.


The truth will out.
Do the politicians absorb these opinion poll figures and mark them?
The day is dawning, when the public will say: “enough, I do not want my hard earned taxes spent on worse than useless; biofuel subsidies, wind turbines [and the rest].”
And that, “I do not want to have my company skewered [put out of business] by carbon emissions taxes in order, to support a political scam and supposedly prevent what is an: environmentalist inspired supposition – of an atmospherically impossible fiction.”
It’s all in the [or not] the feedback man….. .


It appears that `All of the people, some of the time` will be the alarmists epitaph.


REPLY: But not delusional.
rotfl yep
Have fun I have to go to work and herd liberals for the rest of the day………


I’m not sure I understand the question – when I read “do you believe most scientists believe global warming is occurring”, I’m inclined to reply ‘you’ve only asked half a question’. Anybody can look at temperature records from the last 100 years and see that there is a warming trend. That does nothing to answer the question of whether human activity has anything to do with the warming. Even if Gallup had asked whether the person being polled believed that ‘most scientists’ believe that the warming trend is largely anthropogenic in nature, that does nothing to answer the question of degree.
I usually trust Gallup, but it surely looks like even they are prone to asking questions that they themselves don’t really understand.
[sarc] Maybe if The Hockey Team, et al. could just figure out how to reframe their talking points, they would get their message across better… [/sarc]

Jack Maloney

The believers like to brandish their hockey stick – perhaps the skeptics should wield this as a boomerang.

Given the press coverage in the 90’s or rather how one sided it was a balancing of opinions as new information comes into the open is almost inevitable. The issues surrounding the science and the way it was used have also caught peoples attention.
Perhaps now we can have a rational discussion and determine a method of finding out what is actually happening


I don’t understand why this blogpost is about a Gallup Poll taken 1 year ago, when there are results from this years poll are available!
The percentage who believe human activity is responsible for global warming actually increased from 50 a year ago to 52%, while the percent who believe that global warming is caused by natural environment decreased from 46% to 43%.
The poll shows that political party affiliation is driving the people’s beliefs about what is a scientific issue.
Two different polls of climate scientists on a similar question get 97% of scientists believe global warming is a result of human activity. One would think that responsible political leaders would go with the opinions of the scientists who study the subject, but it appears that the Republicans don’t want to accept what for them is ideologically and “Inconvenient Truth”.

James Sexton

Well, you can probably expect that if the human experience is no warming in close to 14 years!
For those whining about cherry picking, yes, yes, I did. But it doesn’t change the fact that its there. Oh, you want to see the warming without the 98 El Nino? Sure! Here’s the latest decadal trend.
The reason why the faith is slipping is because reality is slapping humanity in the face.

They forgot what I believe to be an important question: “Do you even give a rats rump anymore?”
Perhaps I am still just a tad bit angry at Climate Science Lying after my latest barrage of climate readings. Fortunately for me, I work in a scientific field where it is very difficult to lie. It either works or it doesn’t, you can’t fudge it.
I have become one very bitter individual at all the damage to real science that this climate con game has caused. Something that I don’t think I will soon be able to put aside, and I’m angry about that.

The questions they should have been asking are:
1. Do you believe burning carbon based fuels is contributing to global warming?
2. If so, to what extent?
a. less than 5%
b. 5 to 20%
c. greater than 20%
3. What amount are you willing to pay to reduce the burning of carbon based fuels.
a. less than $100/year
b. between $100/year and $1000/year
c. more than $1000/year
These are questions elected representitives would like to know.


The Stanford polls, of US public opinion of global warming, indicates that a larger fraction the public accepts the existence of AGW and supports action to fix it than the Gallup poll.
Based on this poll, 76% of Americans believe that the government should regulate greenhouse gases.

Vince Causey

You have to wonder, do the politicians actually look at these polls? Or if they look at them do they somehow convince themselves that they don’t count? There’s no other explanation for the disconnect between policy makers and the public.
In the UK, you have all three main parties pushing for anti-co2 policies as if they were talking about a ‘flags for orphans’ program (to borrow a Simpson’s example of a ‘too popular to fail’ bill). I think politicians spend too much time surrounded by lobbyists from Greenpeace and WWF and have allowed themselves to be indoctrinated that what people want is the government to ‘tackle climate change’. In the end there will be a quantum shift in perception, sort of like the quantum shift in market perception that suddenly happens at the onset of a bear market.
We live in hope.

George M

I think the point of this poll very important. It shows that a large portion of the US people have recognized that CAGW is highly unlikely and that the effects of CO2 and other GHG have been overstated. Add to that the fact that GAT hasn’t continued to increase for the last 10-15 years and the AGW hypothesis I think Dr. Pielke Sr.’s take on AGW is pretty reasonable- people do many things that affect the climate, we don’t really know by how much, the focus on CO2 is way overdone, and climate modelling doesn’t do a useful job of predicting anything and use the wrong metric. How much heat( in joules, deltaT*heat capacity) in the climate system is much more important and very poorly known.

Gary Swift

I wonder if the wording of the questions has changed over the years. I am, as always, extremely cautious and perhaps skeptical when reading about polls.


Good point by Squidly as to just how much damage has been done to real science by this chicanery. This entire scam has been perpetrated by a group of fringe academics with political connections, and they chose to pursue their own aggrandizement at the expense of all else. Since they never cared for actual “Science” they had no inhibitions about pursuing a path that would burn the reputation of the entire field to the ground if they were wrong.
In effect, they chose to risk the credibility of science itself on their own pet project, and threatened to drag everyone else down with them if things didn’t work out their way. Perversely, this added pressure on reputable scientists to go along, because they could be accused of damaging the credibility of “science” if they didn’t.
Now their ship has hit the proverbial Iceberg, and everyone else has got to scramble to the few lifeboats left. Tossing the clowns who started this mess overboard is a very good first step.
also – interesting to note in the first graph that the segment that believes that “Warming already has happened or is happening now” (ie, Hansen groupies) is down to a constant 10%, a pretty good estimation of the fringe/crank segment on any given issue today. That’s who the warmists represent.

James Sexton

Squidly says:
March 16, 2011 at 6:27 am
They forgot what I believe to be an important question: “Do you even give a rats rump anymore?”
Well that’s just about it, no one does much anymore. Oh sure, there’s still plenty of us to fill blog roles and whatnot, but for the average citizen, the alarmist bs is all they’ve heard their entire lives. And nothing has happened. So much so, that now alarmists are stretching for any event to be tied to CAGW.(or whatever). They’ve invalidated themselves with their dire predictions. They’ve screamed it so much for so long, the average person has simply tuned them out. They’re little more than background noise. And when the shrill becomes loud enough for the average person to notice, they find the noise of full of fabrication, double talk, omission of facts….etc…
Squidly, as to your profession, you should be angry. The leaders in real scientific fields sat idly by and let these charlatans incessantly blather their pseudo-science. They are as much to blame as the charlatans. And that makes me angry, too.


Maybe climate change policy is like Hadacol, the cure for aches and pain sold in a bottle. It was very popular, eased pain and was 12 percent alcohol.
Of course it was also a headache sold off the drug store shelf and only cured the desire for booze without going to the tavern where the booze was properly manufactured and legally advertised, taxed and sold for what it was, an intoxicating drink.
Eventually people quit buying it and Hadacol went the way of other snake oil remedies.

Alexander K

Like all thorough-going sceptics, I believe the Gallup questions to be poorly worded and do not address the anthropegenic component of so-called AGW. Anyone would have to be incredibly unaware if they didn’t know there has been warming on a global scale as the earth recovered from the LIA but temps have shown no statistically significant increase in the past decade and currently appear to be in a slight decline. I find most polls to be either carelessly worded and thus incapable of giving an accurate result or deliberately constructed to avoid arriving at accuracy; yer takes yer pick.

Poor questions lead to poor answers. I agree with those who think the debate needs to be reframed:
1. How much warming has there been? (in last century? In last millennium?)
2. What are the causes? (correlation with CO2 poor, in fact no one knows the answer and that is why we need good science.)
3. Is there reason to believe warming will accelerate and become catastrophic? (ie are the net feedbacks positive or negative? (The stability of the Earth’s climate for eons argues the feedbacks are net negative)
4. Is moderate warming a net good or net harm—-to humans and/or the more general biosphere? (The fossil record and history say net good.)

Theo Goodwin

Jeremy says:
March 16, 2011 at 5:51 am
“That last question is very poorly worded. Most scientists clearly accept that the world has warmed, the question is the attributed cause. They should be asking the public:”
We should have moved beyond the question of “most scientists.” Warmista have used the concept for unabashed propagandizing. Richard Muller (see Youtube) and associates are presently at work demonstrating that the most famous of “most scientists” engaged in dishonesty when they created and promoted and apologized for the hockey stick.


There is certain percentage of the population that are going to believe in AGW no matter what the facts really are. It’s almost a desire to think something bad about mankind, almost a form of self loathing of our race.
The percentage varies depending on the subject of the poll between 20 and 30 percent.
For example Obama is still receiving a “strongly approves” rating from 20% of the population even as he gets ready to jet off to South America despite the worlds current situation.
I suspect that the same 20% would still strongly approve if he declared martial law in the US and declared himself president for life.


Thirty-one Republicans on the House Energy And Commerce Committee — the entire Republican contingent on the panel — declined on Tuesday to vote in support of the very idea that climate change exists.
Democrats on the panel had suggested three amendments that said climate change is a real thing, is caused by humans and has potentially dire consequences for the future.The global scientific community is in near unanimous agreement that climate change is real, and that humans contribute to it.
None of the 31 Republicans on the committee would vote yes on any of the amendments (Rep. Marsha Blackburn [R-TN] declined to vote on one.) The committee’s 21 Democrats voted yes on all three.


“Here’s the latest decadal trend.

I like that decadal trend. I think it is very likely the decline will get steeper in the next years/decades.

And in line with this… See the Patrick Moore Video On Fox News… He discusses Global Warming and energy
This is a MUST SEE!
They are way out to lunch on batteries and GeoThermal — but what the heck!
IMO He is right you know — politics and manipulation

I wonder why the hockey stick starts at 2006? Most of the publicly available sources of info haven’t changed much in those years. Valid info has been available on the web since 1990, and false info has been available everywhere else since 1990. The Climategate revelations were in 2009, and received exactly zero coverage in mass media, so they can’t be the important factor.
Could it be that the last 5 years have featured very hard winters in most of the places where people live? Every year has a bad winter someplace, but urban areas have been hit steadily with serious cold in those years, causing more people to examine the valid info and discount the false info.


Just to be clear, I do not wish global cooling, but I think a bit of cooling is necessary to bring back some real science and stop the hysteria, which is worse and causes more damage than cooling.
One way or the other, we can not do anything about it.


Americans can see with their own eyes the failed prediction about milder Northern Hemisphere winters. Now they are being told that the cold and snow are really signs of global warming. Total crap.
Here is what we were told then and now.
June 4, 1999
“Warm Winters Result From Greenhouse Effect, Columbia Scientists Find, Using NASA Model”
Nov. 17, 2010
“Global Warming Could Cool Down Northern Temperatures in Winter”
How can anyone falsify this two-way-bet?


I wonder what question Gallup will ask should we be prolonged cooling?

R. Gates

Ah, if only polling data had anything to do with the reality of what were really happening with the earth’s climate. For example, how many people believe in ghosts or that the end of the world is coming in 2012? Certainly it’s nice to know what the polls say for those who would like to influence the politics of climate change, but the lesson of history is that perceptions often have very little correlation one way or another with reality…and the herd is a likely to be wrong on an issue as right.

Theo Goodwin

Unfortunately, at this time in American history, all that polls can indicate is the effect of the white hot fury that the MSM has created from the most recent natural disaster. In the case of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the MSM, now including Fox, changed the topic from the natural disaster and its effects on the Japanese people to the nuclear power industry. Apparently, the MSM have developed the ability to identify the spin that will most increase the tendencies toward hysteria and panic that exist in the public. The storyline of impending nuclear meltdown was always an illusion. There was no reason whatsoever to believe that the nuclear facilities would explode or release a significant amount of radiation. Yet the MSM grabbed this storyline and holds it today. Either all of the MSM are fools or they are deliberately exploiting public nervousness about all things nuclear and the climate. In doing so, they have created a panic of historic proportions. (By panic, I mean such things as Germany backing off from nuclear power, Senator Lieberman calling for a moratorium, etc.) This is Yellow Journalism turned White Hot Fury Journalism. This bodes ill for the future of civilization.
If the MSM support Obama in 2012 then there is no question he will win, unless he self-destructs, something that is likely. We have just seen the power of the MSM and we have learned that there is nothing in the public arena to oppose it. Our rulers are now chosen by masters of hysteria and panic.
Between now and November 2012, look for the MSM to grab every environmental news event and to promote Greenie spin with the same apocalyptic fervor that they have promoted nuclear disaster in Japan. Expect public opinion to swing toward the view that manmade CO2 is the devil.


Joe Lalonde says:
March 16, 2011 at 5:31 am
If they only knew how much “uncertainty” has been manipulated into a “sure thing”.

There are a number of reasons for this “uncertainty” which includes “contradictory evidence.”

“Causes of uncertainty include insufficient or contradictory evidence as well as human behaviour.”
IPCC – 2007: Working Group III

I am working on a list of about 30 papers, abstracts and IPCC reports which not just ‘appear‘ contradict each other but come to opposite conclusions. I hope Anthony allows me to post the list up by the end of the month. Here is a taste. ;O)
Northern Hemisphere winters warmer [Gavin Schmidt et. al.]
Northern Hemisphere winters colder ;O)
Plant methane emissions significant
Plant methane emissions insignificant
Malaria may increase
Malaria may continue decreasing in a warming world!
Malaria to increase in Burundi
Malaria to decline in Burundi [via sciencedaily]
UK to get more droughts
UK to get more rain

Bruce Cobb

They know they need to do a better job selling what they prefer to call “climate change”.
To that end, a TV and movie producer by the name of Marshall Herskovitz is working on a multi-tiered campaign involving an “absolute ‘A-Team’ of people”, and “a lot of money”:
Unfortunately for the Warmistas, the harder they try to sell it, the less people want to buy what they’re selling.
Herskovitch: “…we need to hit people over the head. We need people to act right now, and we need people to act in a huge manner. It’s very hard to get across to people the scale at which we have to act.” Sounds like he’s going with the advice of Stephen Schneider who fifteen years ago, said “we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” Yeah, that’ll work.


Given that some of the people who come to this website argue that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas, the results of this poll ar enot surprising.

Roger Knights

Since Gallup polled from March 6 to 13 last year, that means they’ve done this year’s survey, probably. I wonder how soon its results will be out. A month from now?


Whoever said that ‘there are no stupid questions’ obviously never read that poll.

Doug Proctor

Interesting example of the way in which statistics are viewed as solid, whereas in fact they are +/- quite a bit. The last couple of years are certainly within the same wiggle room for those questioned, when they are questioned and how strongly they hold the answer they gave.
Basically half of all people are not convinced, but half the people are that AGW is real and some level of CAGW is real. That’s not trivial. Elections that lead to national wars are decided over much less.


Theo Goodwin says:
March 16, 2011 at 7:26 am
We should have moved beyond the question of “most scientists.”…

You are right. I always tried to make that point in the past, “consensus is meaningless.” But the argument never seems to die, everyone wants to argue by authority.

Grant Hillemeyer

I think the AGW hand has been way over played. The claims are too abstract, people just don’t see it. It’s not just global warming but news reports in general, every hour, on the hour, highlighting some report about how what we eat, breathe and do will kill us, make us unhappy, poorer, whatever. I think it’s our nature to cut out this noise, too much information that we can’t do anything about.
Eat, drink and be merry!

eadler says:
“Two different polls of climate scientists on a similar question get 97% of scientists believe global warming is a result of human activity.”
Enough with your 97% nonsense. It has been repeatedly debunked, yet you cling to it like a drowning man clings to a stick. You couldn’t get a poll where 97% believed Hitler was a bad guy. But you actually believe that 97% of scientists believe humans cause global warming? Get a grip.

Hugh Pepper

This is a sad statement, because there is no rational reason why people should be failing to grasp the “seriousness” of climate change and global warming.The vast majority of working scientists and the entire world’s Academies of Science are aware of this seriousness and they have given us enough evidence to alert us to problems ahead. It is tragic that anyone can reject this evidence and that a do-nothing, business-as-usual approach is being supported. Our children and grandchildren will not forgive us.


Is there a trend? Anomalies? Is there a computer model? Does it predict a further rise in non-consensus due to positive feedback from near-fraudulent studies being exposed? How about the feedbacks from failure to agree with the real world and failures to predict…. well, a lot of things?

Grant Hillemeyer

Hugh Pepper says…
With Japans nuclear problems you can kiss it all goodbye then. If what you believe is true, there is no possibilty of mitigation without nuclear power. And you think we’re deluded….