A growing majority of Americans think global warming is happening and are worried

Feb 20, 2019 | All Categories, Climate Notes

Data from our Climate Change in the American Mind surveys show that, over the past five years, the proportion of Americans who think global warming is happening and who worry about it has increased sharply.  During this time, Americans have become increasingly convinced that GW is happening (+11 percentage points), is human-caused (+15), and that most scientists agree it is happening (+15). The proportion of Americans who say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming has also increased (+13).

A growing proportion of Americans also are worried about global warming (+16), feel it is personally important to them (+17), and think it will harm them personally (+11) and Americans in general (+12).

These increases have occurred across the political spectrum. All eight trends shown in the figures above occurred among Democrats and Republicans (although often to different degrees).

For example, the 16-point increase in the proportion of Americans who are worried about global warming is largely the result of increased worry among moderate/conservative Democrats (+19) and conservative Republicans (+18).

These trends demonstrate that large changes in public opinion are occurring among Americans across the political spectrum. A growing majority of Americans think that global warming is happening, understand it is human-caused, and are worried about its impacts—beliefs that are consistent with the findings of the 2018 National Climate Assessment which found that climate change is already causing harm to communities in every region of America.


The data included in this report are based on 11 bi-annual waves (n = 13,103) of the Climate Change in the American Mind survey — a nationally-representative analysis of public opinion on climate change in the United States conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Surveys were conducted from December 2013 to December 2018 using the Ipsos KnowledgePanel® (formerly GfK), a representative online panel of U.S. adults (18+). All questionnaires were self-administered by respondents in a web-based environment.

Average margin of error for the full sample: +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Percentage values are weighted to align with U.S. Census parameters. For tabulation purposes, percentage points are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Opinion Trends Climate Note