March 17, 2010
Voters Take Global Warming Less Seriously
The majority of U.S. voters continue to believe global warming is a serious problem, but the number who considers it very serious is at its lowest level in over a year.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows 53% of voters think global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem. Yet that number includes just 28% who say it is a very serious problem, down three points from last month and the lowest level measured since the beginning of 2009.
Forty-two percent (42%) don’t think global warming is a serious problem, a number that has held relatively steady since December. Prior to December, however, that number never rose above 40%.
Voters weren't nearly as closely divided on the issue one year ago, when 64% saw global warming as a serious problem and 32% did not. But since then serious questions have been raised about the vaildity of some of the more prominent research on global warming.
Women are more likely than men to see global warming as a serious problem. Those voters between the ages of 18 and 29 are more likely than their elders to see the issue as serious.
Nearly half of voters (48%) believe global warming is caused primarily by long-term planetary trends, a number that also has held steady since last July. Just 33% blame the problem on human activity, which is one point below the lowest level measured in over a year. Eight percent (8%) attribute global warming to some other cause, and 11% are undecided.
Belief that human activity is the primary cause of global warming has declined significantly. In April 2008, the numbers were nearly the mirror image of the current findings. At that time, 47% blamed human activity, while only 34% named long-term planetary trends as the reason for climate change.
Since July, the number who believe long-term planetary trends are the chief culprit have ranged from 47% to 50%. Those who blame human activity have ranged from 33% to 42% in the same period.
As also has been the case over the past year, voters believe the president feels differently than they do. The latest survey shows the plurality (45%) believes President Obama sees human activity as the primary cause of global warming, though that is the lowest level measured since he took office. Twenty-four percent (24%) now say the president blames the problem on planetary trends, also the highest result found since last January. Another 23% are not sure what Obama believes.
The president was unsuccessful last December in his effort with other world leaders to produce a global treaty to reduce the human activity they blame for global warming.
Just 34% give the president good or excellent ratings on his handling of energy issues, down four points from February. Forty percent (40%) say the president is doing a poor job handling those issues.
In February, Obama announced an $8.3-billion government loan guarantee to build the first new nuclear plant in this country in over a quarter of a century. Nearly half of Americans (49%) favor the building of new nuclear power plants. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are opposed to the idea, and 24% are not sure.
By a 55% to 32% margin, most voters continue to believe finding new sources of energy is more important than reducing the amount of energy Americans now consume.
Most (55%) voters say investing in renewable energy sources like solar and wind power is the better plan for the country. Only 30% see fossil fuels as the better investment.
Forty-five percent (45%) see a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection, a number that has held relatively steady over the past several months. Just 26% do not see this conflict, and another 29% are not sure.