Climate Change in the American Mind: Poll by George Mason University

George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication

[Yale University] Despite the debate in Congress over proposed EPA regulations, a solid majority of Americans (67%) support setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health. Respondents were told that power plants would have to reduce their emissions and/or invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and that the cost of electricity to consumers and companies would likely increase.

The survey also found that Americans support a broad range of policies that would help reduce or protect against global warming. For example, solid majorities “strongly” or “somewhat” support the following:

  • Increasing funding for improvements to local roads, bridges and buildings to make them more resistant to extreme weather (83%)
  • Funding more research into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power (77%)
  • Providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (77%)
  • Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (75%)
  • Requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20% of their electricity from wind, solar, or other renewable energy sources, even if it costs the average household an extra $100 a year (62%)

The study also found that 66% of Americans think global warming is happening (up three percentage points since November 2013), whereas only 16% say it is not happening (down 7 points since November 2013). Public understanding of the human causes, levels of worry, and risk perceptions, however, have held steady in recent years.

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