Questions continue to mount over the science behind years of studies that say humans are chiefly to blame for global warming. But reflecting a trend that has been going on for more than a year, just 35 percent of U.S. voters now believe global warming is caused primarily by human activity.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 47 percent think long-term planetary trends are mostly to blame, down three points from the previous survey in January. Eight percent say there is some other reason, and 10 percent aren't sure.
But 56 percent say President Obama still believes that human activity is the main cause of global warming. That's the highest finding on that question since last March.The president went to a United Nations summit in Copenhagen in December in hopes of reaching an international agreement that would limit human activities that some scientists say contribute to global warming.
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 numbers. At that time, 47 percent blamed human activity and only 34 percent 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 percent to 50 percent. Those who blame human activity have ranged from 34 percent to 42 percent in the same period.
Fifty-six percent (56 percent) of voters still regard global warming as at least a somewhat serious problem, including 31 percent who say it’s very serious. But December marked the first time in 2009 that the overall level of concern fell below 60 percent. Forty-one percent (41 percent) now say global warming is not a serious problem, up seven points from early November of last year. That number includes 19 percent who say climate change is not at all a serious problem.
In early January, voters were evenly divided over whether global warming was linked to the extreme weather conditions this winter.
Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to believe that long-term planetary trends are the primary reason for global warming. Adults not affiliated with either major party are more closely divided.
A majority of voters (61 percent) say finding new sources of energy is more important than reducing the amounts of energy Americans now consume, while 32 percent feel the opposite is true. The latest findings have remained fairly consistent since early June 2009.
Sixty-four percent (64 percent) say investing in renewable energy sources like solar and wind is a better long-term financial investment for America than investing in fossil fuels like coal, gas, and oil, up six points from late January. Just 27 percent disagree with that assessment, down three points from the previous survey.
But 46 percent continue to believe there’s a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection, up four points from this time last year. Twenty-seven percent (27 percent) say there is no conflict between the two.
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