The Climate Change in the American Mind Series, Spring 2012

In March 2012, we conducted a national survey on Americans’ climate change and energy beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behavior.

The first report shows that a large majority of Americans say they personally experienced an extreme weather event or natural disaster in the past year.  A majority of Americans also say the weather in the United States is getting worse, and many report that extreme weather in their own local area has become more frequent and damaging. Further, large majorities believe that global warming made a number of recent extreme weather events worse. However, only about a third of Americans have either a disaster emergency plan or an emergency supply kit in their homes. The report can be downloaded here: Extreme Weather, Climate & Preparedness in the American Mind.

The second report shows that majorities of Americans say that global warming and clean energy should be among the nation’s priorities, want more action by elected officials, corporations and citizens themselves, and support a variety of climate change and energy policies, including holding fossil fuel companies responsible for all the “hidden costs” of their products. A majority also say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a “revenue neutral” tax shift from income taxes to fossil fuels, and that global warming will be one of the issues that determines their vote for President this fall. The report can be downloaded here: Public Support for Climate and Energy Policies in March 2012.

The third report shows that overall, Americans' beliefs and attitudes about global warming have remained relatively stable over the past several months. A new question shows that Americans overestimate the proportion of the population who do not believe global warming is happening. When respondents were asked to estimate what proportion of Americans do not believe global warming is occurring, the average proportion given was 21%. However, only 14% of respondents were actually disbelievers in global warming.

Respondents were also asked about their trust in President Obama and Mitt Romney as sources of information about global warming. Almost half the country (47%) trusts Obama, but only 21% trust Romney. The report can be downloaded here: Americans' Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes
in March 2012

The fourth report shows that more than half of Americans say they attempted to reduce their family’s energy consumption in the year leading up to March 2012. A majority also said they intended to change their purchasing habits over the next 12 months to reward or punish companies for their global warming-related behaviors. The report can be downloaded here:  Americans' Actions to Conserve Energy, Reduce Waste and Limit Global Warming in March 2012.

The fifth report – Global Warming’s Six Americas in March 2012 and November 2011 – shows that the proportion of Americans in the Disengaged group reduced to 6 percent, compared to 10 percent in May 2011; the proportion in the Cautious group increased to 29 percent, up from 24 percent in May 2011. Strong majorities of the Alarmed, Concerned, Cautious and Disengaged said that global warming is affecting weather in the United States. The report can be downloaded here: Global Warming's Six Americas in March 2012 and November 2011.