Voters in recent months have been increasingly skeptical of the idea that global warming is chiefly caused by human activity, but the number who blame long term planetary trends instead has now fallen back to its lowest level in nearly a year.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 40% of Likely U.S. Voters now say global warming is caused primarily by human activity, while slightly more (44%) say long term planetary trends are to blame. Five percent (5%) blame some other reason, and 10% are not sure.
The number of voters who feel human activity is causing global warming is up seven points from early April and has reached the highest level measured since early September 2009. Meanwhile, the number of voters who blame long term planetary trends has fallen to the lowest level measured since early June of last year.
A majority (55%) of voters continue to believe President Obama feels global warming is caused by human activity. Just 21% say the president thinks long term planetary trends are to blame for climate change, while 18% more are undecided. These findings show little change since early February 2009.
Despite the large oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the number of voters who believe there is a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection is actually down slightly from the previous survey. Forty-four percent (44%) believe there is such a conflict, but 34% disagree. Another 22% are not sure.
But voters believe there is a potential conflict between offshore oil drilling and environmental protection. Separate polling finds that 69% are concerned about the environmental risks of offshore oil drilling. This is up 20 points from March to May.
The survey of 1,000 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on May 26-27, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
Sixty-four percent (64%) of voters still believe offshore oil drilling should be allowed. This marks a rebound of sorts from 58% earlier in May right after the Gulf leak began. But 72% supported the resumption of offshore drilling just after Obama lifted the longstanding ban on it in March.
While voters lean toward greater government regulation of the oil industry following the Gulf disaster, 65% don't think it's a good idea for the government to nationalize all the oil companies and run them on a non-profit basis.
Sixty-three percent (63%) now believe investing in renewable energy resources such as solar and wind is the better long-term financial investment for America than investing in fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil. This finding is up five points from early April and has reached its highest level measured since early February.
Just 27% say investing in fossil fuels is a better long-term investment. Ten percent (10%) are not sure.
Most Democrats and voters not affiliated with either party favor investment in renewable energy sources. Republicans are evenly divided on the question.
Fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters feel global warming is a serious problem, but 37% disagree. These figures include 35% who say it’s a Very Serious problem and 15% who believe global warming is Not At All Serious.
The number of voters who believe global warming is a serious problem is up four points from last month and is at its highest level since early November of last year.
The Political Class views global warming as much more serious a problem than Mainstream voters do. While 55% of Mainstream voters say global warming is due to long term planetary trends, the plurality (48%) of the Political Class blames human activity.
A majority (61%) say finding new sources of energy is more important than reducing the amount of energy Americans now consume, down slightly from last month. Thirty-two percent (32%) feel the opposite is true.
Most Americans see a need for major lifestyle cutbacks to help the environment, but even more don’t think that's likely to happen.
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