Three of every four Americans view climate change as a serious problem that will harm future generations if not addressed, according to an Associated Press-Stanford University poll.
The survey also said that about the same number of people say the Earth probably already is warming, slightly fewer than the percentage expressing that view when asked the same question a year ago.
The AP-Stanford poll of 1,005 adults contacted by telephone in November suggests that people's concerns about climate change have not changed significantly.
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That's contrary to several other recent surveys. In October, according to a poll of 1,500 adults conducted by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, 57 percent said there is solid evidence the world is getting warmer. That was a 20 percent decline from three years earlier.
The new survey findings could give a boost to supporters of legislation in Congress to reduce heat-trapping pollution, mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
On Saturday, an international climate conference made some headway toward an agreement for nations to cut greenhouse gases, but the accord spelled out no specific or mandatory cuts.
President Barack Obama, a key broker in the agreement, called it a breakthrough that lays the groundwork for getting emission cuts and for action by Congress.
In the AP-Stanford poll, when participants were asked how serious a problem they thought global warming presented, 42 percent replied it was very serious and 31 percent said it was somewhat serious.
Nearly two-thirds, or 63 percent, said that if nothing is done to reduce the threat of global warming, future generations will be hurt a great deal or "a lot." An additional 13 percent said future generations would be moderately harmed.
Still, only 41 percent viewed global warming as extremely or very important to them, although respondents said they rated climate change as second only to the economy as the most serious problems facing the world if nothing is done to address it.
While a solid majority say they believe the Earth already is warming, those that do not appeared to be more convinced than ever about their skepticism.
Of the 22 percent of the respondents who said that warming "probably is not happening," about half said they also are extremely or very sure of that conclusion. Two years ago, only one-third of people felt that way when asked the same question.
But the broad concerns over climate change appeared not to translate into support for legislation before Congress that would cap greenhouse gases.
While three-quarters of respondents said they support action to combat climate change, just as many said they would oppose the "cap and trade" legislation to limit heat-trapping pollution if it raised their electricity bill by $25 a month. Almost six in 10 balked if it meant paying $10 extra a month for electricity.
The AP-Stanford University Poll was conducted November 17-29 by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,005 adults nationwide, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
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