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Climate Change in the American Mind: Beliefs & Attitudes, Fall 2023

Jan 10, 2024 | All Categories, Climate Change in the American Mind

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Report Summary

This report is based on findings from a nationally representative survey – Climate Change in the American Mind – conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Interview dates: October 20 – 26, 2023. Interviews: 1,033 adults (18+). Average margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

 

Climate Change in the American Mind is conducted jointly by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.

Principal Investigators:

Anthony Leiserowitz, PhD
Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

Edward Maibach, MPH, PhD
George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication

Seth Rosenthal, PhD
Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

John Kotcher, PhD
George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication

For all media and other inquiries, please email:

Yale Program on Climate Change Communication: Lisa Fernandez ([email protected]), Eric Fine ([email protected]), and Michaela Hobbs ([email protected])

George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication: Edward Maibach ([email protected]) and John Kotcher ([email protected])

Executive Summary

Drawing on a nationally representative survey (n = 1,033) conducted from October 20 – 26, 2023, this report describes Americans’ 1 beliefs and attitudes about global warming. Among the key findings of this report:

Global Warming Beliefs

  • Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who think it is not happening by a ratio of nearly 5 to 1 (72% versus 15%).
  • Those who are “very” or “extremely” sure global warming is happening outnumber those who are “very” or “extremely” sure it is not happening by about 6 to 1 (49% versus 8%).
  • 58% of Americans understand that global warming is mostly human-caused. By contrast, 29% think it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment.
  • 53% of Americans understand that most scientists think global warming is happening.

Perceived Risks and Impacts of Global Warming

  • 46% of Americans think people in the United States are being harmed by global warming “right now,” and 43% say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming.
  • Majorities of Americans think global warming will harm plant and animal species (71%), future generations of people (70%), the world’s poor (67%), people in developing countries (66%), people in the United States (59%), and people in their community (50%). Many also think their family (49%) and they themselves (45%) will be harmed.
  • 10% of Americans have considered moving to avoid the impacts of global warming.
  • 61% of Americans think global warming is affecting weather in the United States, including 33% who think weather is being affected “a lot.”
  • Majorities of Americans think global warming is affecting many environmental problems in the United States, including extreme heat (75%), droughts (71%), wildfires (70%), air pollution (66%), water shortages (66%), flooding (66%), rising sea levels (66%), hurricanes (64%), reduced snow pack (61%), tornados (61%), agricultural pests and diseases (59%), water pollution (58%), and electricity power outages (57%).
  • 52% of Americans think extreme weather poses either a “high” (16%) or “moderate” (36%) risk to their community over the next 10 years.
  • Majorities of Americans are worried their local area might be harmed by electricity power outages (74%), air pollution (73%), extreme heat (70%), water pollution (67%), droughts (63%), agricultural pests and diseases (63%), flooding (58%), water shortages (56%), tornados (56%), and wildfires (52%). Many Americans are also worried their local area might be harmed by hurricanes (39%), rising sea levels (38%), and reduced snow pack (37%).

Global Warming, Emotional Responses, and Mental Health

  • 65% of Americans say they are at least “somewhat worried” about global warming. This includes 29% who say they are “very worried.”
  • About one in ten Americans report experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression because of global warming for several or more days out of the last two weeks.

Personal and Social Engagement with Global Warming

  • 65% of Americans say they “rarely” or “never” discuss global warming with family and friends, while 35% say they do so “occasionally” or “often.”
  • 40% of Americans think it is at least “moderately” important to their family and friends that they take action to reduce global warming (an injunctive norm), and 35% say their family and friends make at least “a moderate amount of effort” to reduce global warming (a descriptive norm).
  • 51% of Americans say they hear about global warming in the media about once a month or more frequently. Fewer (20%) say they hear people they know talk about global warming once a month or more frequently.
  • Given the opportunity to talk to an expert on global warming, the questions Americans would most commonly ask are: “What can the nations of the world do to reduce global warming?” (74%); “What can the United States do to reduce global warming?” (72%); “How do you know that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, not natural changes in the environment?” (70%); and “Is there still time to reduce global warming, or is it too late?” (69%).
  • 67% of Americans say the issue of global warming is either “extremely,” “very,” or “somewhat” important to them personally, while 33% say it is either “not too” or “not at all” personally important.
  • 63% of Americans say they feel a personal sense of responsibility to help reduce global warming.

Fatalism

  • 13% of Americans agree with the statement “it’s already too late to do anything about global warming,” while many more (60%) disagree.
  • 47% of Americans agree with the statement “the actions of a single individual won’t make any difference in global warming,” while 53% disagree.

1 Throughout this report, we use the term “Americans” to refer to adults (18+) who reside in the United States (the 50 states plus the District of Columbia).

1. Global Warming Beliefs

1.1. Most Americans think global warming is happening.

Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who think it is not happening by a ratio of nearly 5 to 1.

About seven in ten Americans (72%) think global warming is happening. By contrast, only 15% of Americans think global warming is not happening. Twelve percent say they don’t know if global warming is happening (refer to data tables, p. 31).

This line graph shows the percentage of Americans over time since 2008 who think global warming is happening or not happening. Most Americans think global warming is happening. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

1.2. When Americans who “don’t know” if global warming is happening are asked for their best guess, more say “yes” than “no.”

Survey respondents who say they “don’t know” whether global warming is happening in response to the question in Section 1.1 (refer to data tables, p. 31) are then asked to provide their best guess as to whether or not global warming is happening. Over time, this follow-up question has produced a relatively stable pattern in which more of these Americans “lean” toward “yes” than “no” (refer to data tables, p. 32).

When the “leaners,” as determined by this follow-up question, are added to the totals of those who responded “yes” or “no” to the question reported in Section 1.1, we find that a total of 80% of Americans think global warming is happening or lean toward that position, while 20% think global warming is not happening or lean toward that position.

This line graph shows the percentage of Americans over time since 2017 who think global warming is happening or not happening, including those who initially say they "don’t know," but then provide their best guess. When Americans who “don’t know” if global warming are asked their best guess, more say “yes” than “no”. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

1.3. About half of Americans are “extremely” or “very” sure global warming is happening.

 About half of Americans (49%) are either “extremely” or “very” sure global warming is happening. Far fewer (8%) are “extremely” or “very” sure global warming is not happening.

These line graphs show the percentage of Americans over time since 2008 who are “extremely” or “very” sure global warming is happening or not happening. About half of Americans are “extremely” or “very” sure global warming is happening. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

1.4. A majority of Americans think global warming is mostly human-caused.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment synthesis report, summarizing the work of thousands of climate experts worldwide, states: “Human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming.”1

A majority of Americans (58%) understand that global warming is mostly human-caused. By contrast, 29% think it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment.

This line graph shows the percentage of Americans over time since 2008 who think global warming is mostly human-caused or mostly caused by natural changes in the environment. A majority of Americans think global warming is mostly human-caused. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

1.5. About half of Americans understand that most scientists think global warming is happening.

A review by Cook and colleagues2 found that six independent, peer-reviewed studies examining the scientific consensus about global warming have concluded that between 90% and 100% of climate scientists are convinced human-caused global warming is happening. A more recent study found that as many as 98% of climate scientists are convinced global warming is happening and human-caused.3

About half of Americans (53%) understand that most scientists think global warming is happening. By contrast, one in four (25%) think there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening. Very few Americans (3%) believe most scientists think global warming is not happening.

This line graph shows the percentage of Americans over time since 2008 who understand that most scientists think global warming is happening. About half of Americans understand that most scientists think global warming is happening. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

1 IPCC. (2023). Summary for Policymakers. In Core Writing Team, Lee, H., & Romero, J. (eds.). Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland. doi: 10.59327/IPCC/AR6-9789291691647.001

2 Cook, J., Oreskes, N., Doran, P. T., Anderegg, W. R. I., Verheggen, B., Maibach, E. W., Carlton, J. S., Lewandowsky, S., Skuce, A. G., Green, S. A., Nuccitelli, D., Jacobs, P., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R., & Rice., K. (2016). Consensus on consensus: A synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming. Environmental Research Letters, 11(4). doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048002

2. Perceived Risks of Global Warming

2.1. Many Americans say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming.

Many Americans (43%) agree with the statement “I have personally experienced the effects of global warming,” although a majority of Americans (56%) disagree.

This line graph shows the percentage of Americans over time since 2008 who say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming. Many Americans say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

2.2. Many Americans think people in the U.S. are being harmed “right now” by global warming.

Just under half of Americans (46%) think people in the U.S. are being harmed by global warming “right now.”

This line graph shows the percentage of Americans over time since 2008 who think people in the U.S. are being harmed "right now" by global warming. Many Americans think people in the U.S. are being harmed "right now" by global warming. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

2.3. Many Americans think global warming will harm them, but more think others will be harmed.

A majority of Americans understand that global warming will cause harm. Half or more Americans think global warming will cause either “a great deal” or “a moderate amount” of harm to plant and animal species (71%), future generations of people (70%), the world’s poor (67%), people in developing countries (66%), people in the United States (59%), and people in their community (50%). Many Americans also think their family (49%) and they themselves (45%) will be harmed.

These bar charts show the percentage of Americans who think global warming will harm them or others. Many Americans think global warming will harm them, but more think others will be harmed. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

2.4. One in ten Americans have considered moving to avoid the impacts of global warming.

Research indicates1 that an increasing number of people in the United States may be considering moving away from areas particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. We find that 10% of Americans have considered moving to avoid the impacts of global warming, while 81% have not, and 8% are not sure.

This bar chart shows the percentage of Americans who have considered moving to avoid the impacts of global warming. One in ten Americans have considered moving to avoid the impacts of global warming. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

1 Hauer, M. E. (2017). Migration induced by sea-level rise could reshape the US population landscape. Nature Climate Change, 7(5), 321-325. doi:10.1038/nclimate3271

3. Global Warming, Emotional Responses, and Mental Health

3.1. A majority of Americans are worried about global warming.

About two-thirds of Americans (65%) say they are at least “somewhat worried” about global warming. This includes 29% of Americans who say they are “very worried” about global warming, a response with a general upward trend since the survey began in 2008.

This bar chart shows the percentage of Americans who are worried about global warming. A majority of Americans are worried about global warming. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

3.2. A small but notable percentage of Americans are experiencing psychological distress because of global warming.

To assess anxiety and depression symptoms arising from people’s concerns about global warming, we adapted previously validated brief screening instruments for general anxiety disorder (the GAD-2)and depression (the PHQ-2).2

We found that about one in ten Americans report experiencing symptoms of depression because of global warming for at least “several days” out of the last two weeks, including “feeling down, depressed, or hopeless because of global warming” (12%) or having “little interest or pleasure in doing things because of global warming” (9%). Similar percentages report experiencing symptoms of anxiety because of global warming for at least “several days” out of the last two weeks, including “feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge because of global warming” (11%) or “not being able to stop or control worrying about global warming” (10%).

These bar charts show the percentage of Americans who are experiencing psychological distress because of global warming. A small but notable percentage of Americans are experiencing psychological distress because of global warming. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

1 Kroenke, K., Spitzer, R. L., Williams, J. B., Monahan, P. O., & Löwe, B. (2007). Anxiety disorders in primary care: prevalence, impairment, comorbidity, and detection. Annals of internal medicine146(5), 317-325. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-146-5-200703060-00004

2 Kroenke, K., Spitzer, R. L., & Williams, J. B. (2003). The Patient Health Questionnaire-2: validity of a two-item depression screener. Medical care, 1284-1292. doi:jstor.org/stable/3768417

4. Personal and Social Engagement with Global Warming

4.1. Most Americans “rarely” or “never” discuss global warming with family and friends.

Most Americans (65%) say they either “rarely” (32%) or “never” (33%) discuss global warming with family and friends (refer to data tables, p. 55), while 35% say they discuss global warming either “occasionally” (30%) or “often” (5%).

This line graph shows the percentage of Americans over time since 2008 who "often" or "occasionally" versus "rarely" or "never" discuss global warming with family and friends. Most Americans "rarely" or "never" discuss global warming with family and friends. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

4.2. Fewer than half of Americans perceive social norms for taking action on global warming.

Social science research has shown that two types of social norms can have a powerful influence on people’s behavior: injunctive norms (the belief that friends and family expect you to behave in a given way) and descriptive norms (the belief that friends and family are themselves behaving in that way).1

Four in ten Americans (40%) perceive an injunctive norm, saying it is either “extremely” (3%), “very” (10%), or “moderately” (27%) important to their family and friends that they take action to reduce global warming. Similarly, 35% perceive a descriptive norm, saying their family and friends make either “a great deal of effort” (2%), “a lot of effort” (5%), or “a moderate amount of effort” (28%) to reduce global warming.

These bar charts show the percentage of Americans who perceive social norms for taking action on global warming. Fewer than half of Americans perceive social norms for taking action on global warming. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

4.3. About half of Americans hear about global warming in the media at least once a month; fewer hear people they know talking about it at least once a month.

About half of Americans (51%) say they hear about global warming in the media once a month or more often, while 38% say they hear about global warming in the media several times a year or less often, including 8% who say they never hear about global warming in the media.

In contrast, only one in five Americans (20%) say they hear people they know talk about global warming once a month or more often, while 70% say they hear people they know talk about it several times a year or less often, including 29% who say they never hear people they know talk about global warming.

These bar charts show the percentage of Americans who hear about global warming in the media and hear other people they know talking about global warming. About half of Americans hear about global warming in the media at least once a month. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

4.4. Americans most want to ask a global warming expert about climate change solutions and causes.

About seven in ten or more Americans say that if they had the opportunity to talk to an expert on global warming, they would like to ask,2 “what can the nations of the world do to reduce global warming?” (74%), “what can the United States do to reduce global warming?” (72%), “how do you know that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, not natural changes in the environment (70%), and “is there still time to reduce global warming, or is it too late?” (69%).

These top responses contrast somewhat with the responses given in 2011 (refer to data tables, pp. 60 – 72), in which the top response, “how do you know global warming is caused mostly by human activities, not natural changes in the environment?” (79%) was followed by other basic knowledge questions, including “how do you know that global warming is happening?” (75%), “what harm will global warming cause?” (72%), and “what causes global warming?” (71%).

These dot plots show the change in the percentage of Americans from 2011 to 2023 who want to ask a global warming expert each specific question about global warming. Questions include "Is global warming really happening?", "How do you know that global warming is happening?", "What causes global warming?", "How do you know that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, not natural changes in the environment?", "What harm will global warming cause?", "Will global warming harm people?", "When will global warming begin to harm people?", "What can the United States do to reduce global warming?", "What can I do to reduce global warming?", "How much would it cost the United States to reduce global warming?", "What can the nations of the world do to reduce global warming?", "Is there still time to reduce global warming, or is it too late?", and "Is global warming a hoax?". Americans most want to ask a global warming expert about climate change solutions and causes. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

4.5. When asked to choose one question for a global warming expert, Americans most want to know about climate change causes and solutions.

After responding to each of the 13 questions they could potentially ask an expert on global warming, respondents were shown the list of questions to which they had answered “yes,” and were asked the following question about them: “If you could ask the expert on global warming ONLY ONE QUESTION, which question would you ask?”3

Using this method, the top single question Americans would ask an expert on global warming is “how do you know that global warming is caused by human activities, not natural changes in the environment?” (16%), followed by “what can the nations of the world do to reduce global warming?” (14%), “is there still time to reduce global warming, or is it too late?” (13%), and “what can the United States do to reduce global warming?” (9%).

These are similar to the top responses given to this question in May 2011 (refer to data tables, p. 73), which included “how do you know that global warming is caused by human activities, not natural changes in the environment?” (16%), “how do you know that global warming is happening?” (10%), “is there still time to reduce global warming, or is it too late?” (10%), and “what can the nations of the world do to reduce global warming?” (10%).

This bar chart shows the percentage of Americans who want to ask a global warming each specific question about climate change if they could only ask ONE question. Questions include "Is global warming really happening?", "How do you know that global warming is happening?", "What causes global warming?", "How do you know that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, not natural changes in the environment?", "What harm will global warming cause?", "Will global warming harm people?", "When will global warming begin to harm people?", "What can the United States do to reduce global warming?", "What can I do to reduce global warming?", "How much would it cost the United States to reduce global warming?", "What can the nations of the world do to reduce global warming?", "Is there still time to reduce global warming, or is it too late?", and "Is global warming a hoax?". When asked which one question they would ask a global warming expert, Americans most want to know about climate change causes and solutions. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

4.6. A majority of Americans say the issue of global warming is personally important.

Two in three Americans (67%) say the issue of global warming is either “extremely” (14%), “very” (23%), or “somewhat” (30%) important to them personally (refer to data tables, p. 77). One in three (33%) say global warming is either “not too” (13%) or “not at all” (20%) personally important.

This line graph shows the percentage of Americans over time since 2008 who say the issue of global warming is "extremely", "very", or "somewhat" personally important versus "not too" or "not at all" personally important. A majority of Americans say the issue of global warming is "extremely", "very", or "somewhat" personally important. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.. A majority of Americans say the issue of global warming is personally important. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

4.7. A majority of Americans feel a personal sense of responsibility to help reduce global warming.

A majority of Americans (63%) agree either “strongly” (18%) or “somewhat” (45%) that they feel a personal sense of responsibility to help reduce global warming.

This bar chart shows the percentage of Americans who feel a personal sense of responsibility to help reduce global warming. A majority of Americans feel a personal sense of responsibility to help reduce global warming. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

1 Schultz, P. W., Nolan, J. M., Cialdini, R. B., Goldstein, N. J., & Griskevicius, V. (2007). The constructive, destructive, and reconstructive power of social norms. Psychological Science, 18(5), 429-434. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01917.x

2 Respondents were presented 13 questions they could potentially ask and were prompted to respond either “yes” or “no” to each one. The identical set of questions was asked in the May 2011 wave of the Climate Change in the American Mind survey.

3 This is identical to the procedure used in the May 2011 Climate Change in the American Mind survey.

5. Fatalism

5.1. Few Americans think it is too late to do anything about global warming.

Six in ten Americans (60%) either “strongly” (33%) or “somewhat” (27%) disagree with the statement: “it’s already too late to do anything about global warming.” By contrast, relatively few Americans (13%) either “strongly” (4%) or “somewhat” (9%) agree with this statement.

This bar chart shows the percentage of Americans who think it is too late to do anything about global warming. Few Americans think it is too late to do anything about global warming. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

5.2. About half of Americans disagree with the statement “the actions of a single individual won’t make any difference in global warming.”

About half of Americans (53%) either “strongly” (18%) or “somewhat” (35%) disagree with the statement “the actions of a single individual won’t make any difference in global warming” (refer to data tables, p. 80), while 47% of Americans either “strongly” (18%) or “somewhat” (29%) agree that individual actions won’t make a difference.

This line graph shows the percentage of Americans over time since 2008 who agree or disagree with the statement "the actions of a single individual won't make any difference in global warming". About half of Americans disagree with the statement "the actions of a single individual won't make any difference in global warming". Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

6. Impacts of Global Warming

6.1. A majority of Americans think global warming is affecting weather in the United States.

About six in ten Americans (61%) think global warming is affecting weather in the United States, including a majority (55%) who think global warming is affecting U.S. weather either “a lot” (33%) or “some” (22%).

This bar chart shows the percentage of Americans who think global warming is affecting weather in the United States. A majority of Americans think global warming is affecting weather in the United States. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

As noted above, 33% of Americans think global warming is affecting weather “a lot.” This is about the same level as in most of our surveys since October 2017.

This line graph shows the percentage of Americans over time since 2013 who think global warming is affecting weather "a lot". One in three Americans think global warming is affecting weather "a lot". Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

6.2. Most Americans think global warming is affecting environmental problems in the United States.

Most Americans think global warming is affecting many environmental problems in the United States at least “a little.” This includes three in four who think global warming is affecting extreme heat (75%), and about seven in ten who think global warming is affecting droughts (71%) and wildfires (70%). Two in three think global warming is affecting air pollution, water shortages, flooding, and rising sea levels (all 66%). Majorities also think global warming is affecting hurricanes (64%), reduced snow pack (61%), tornados (61%), agricultural pests and diseases (59%), water pollution (58%), and electricity power outages (57%).

These bar charts show the percentage of Americans who think global warming is affecting environmental problems in the United States, including extreme heat, flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, water shortages, reduced snow pack, rising sea levels, agricultural pests and diseases, tornados, air pollution, water pollution, and electricity power outages. Most Americans think global warming is affecting environmental problems in the United States. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

6.3. About half of Americans think extreme weather poses a risk to their community.

About half of Americans (52%) think extreme weather poses either a “high” (16%) or “moderate” (36%) risk to their community over the next 10 years. Fewer think extreme weather poses either a “low” risk (34%) or “no” risk (7%).

This bar chart shows the percentage of Americans who think extreme weather poses a risk to their community. About half of Americans think extreme weather poses a risk to their community. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

6.4. A majority of Americans are worried about harm from environmental problems in their local area.

Section 6.2 of this report outlines the degree to which Americans think global warming is already affecting numerous environmental problems. This section details how worried Americans are that each of those environmental problems will harm their local area in the future. Majorities of Americans are at least “a little worried” their local area might be harmed by electricity power outages (74%), air pollution (73%), extreme heat (70%), water pollution (67%), droughts (63%), agricultural pests and diseases (63%), flooding (58%), water shortages (56%), tornados (56%), and wildfires (52%). Many Americans are also worried their local area might be harmed by hurricanes (39%), rising sea levels (38%), and reduced snow pack (37%).

These bar charts show the percentage of Americans who are worried about harm from environmental problems in their local area, including extreme heat, flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, water shortages, reduced snow pack, rising sea levels, agricultural pests and diseases, tornados, air pollution, water pollution, and electricity power outages. A majority of Americans are worried about harm from environmental problems in their local area. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

Appendix I: Data Tables

Data Tables can be found beginning on p. 31 of the PDF version of the report:

 

Appendix II: Survey Method

The data in this report are based on a nationally representative survey of 1,033 American adults, aged 18 and older. The survey was conducted October 20 – 26, 2023. All questionnaires were self-administered by respondents in a web-based environment. The median completion time for the survey was 22 minutes.

The sample was drawn from the Ipsos KnowledgePanel®, an online panel of members drawn using probability sampling methods. Prospective members are recruited using a combination of random digit dial and address-based sampling techniques that cover virtually all (non-institutional) resident phone numbers and addresses in the United States. Those contacted who would choose to join the panel but do not have access to the Internet are loaned computers and provided Internet access so they may participate.

The sample therefore includes a representative cross-section of American adults – irrespective of whether they have Internet access, use only a cell phone, etc. Key demographic variables were weighted, post survey, to match US Census Bureau norms.

From November 2008 to December 2018, no KnowledgePanel® member participated in more than one Climate Change in the American Mind (CCAM) survey. Beginning with the April 2019 survey, panel members who have participated in CCAM surveys in the past, excluding the most recent two surveys, may be randomly selected for participation. In the current survey, 276 respondents participated in a previous CCAM survey.

The survey instrument was designed by Anthony Leiserowitz, Seth Rosenthal, Jennifer Carman, Marija Verner, Matthew Ballew, Sanguk Lee, Matthew Goldberg, and Jennifer Marlon of Yale University, and Edward Maibach, John Kotcher, Teresa Myers, Nicholas Badullovich, and Kathryn Thier of George Mason University. The figures and tables were constructed by Emily Goddard of Yale University.

Sample details and margins of error

All samples are subject to some degree of sampling error – that is, statistical results obtained from a sample can be expected to differ somewhat from results that would be obtained if every member of the target population were interviewed. Average margins of error for each wave of CCAM, at the 95% confidence level, are plus or minus 3 percentage points except where noted.

  • October 2023: Fielded October 20 – 26 (n = 1,033)
  • April 2023: Fielded April 18 – May 1 (n = 1,011)
  • December 2022: Fielded December 2 – 12 (n = 1,085)
  • April 2022: Fielded April 13 – May 2 (n = 1,018)
  • September 2021: Fielded September 10 – 20 (n = 1,006)
  • March 2021: Fielded March 18 – 29 (n = 1,037)
  • December 2020: Fielded December 3 – 17 (n = 1,036)
  • Apri 2020: Fielded April 8 – 17 (n = 1,029)
  • November 2019: Fielded November 8 – 20 (n = 1,303)
  • April 2019: Fielded March 29 – April 8 (n = 1,291)
  • December 2018: Fielded November 28 – December 11 (n = 1,114)
  • March 2018: Fielded March 7 – 24 (n = 1,278)
  • October 2017: Fielded October 20 – November 1 (n = 1,304)
  • May 2017: Fielded May 18 – June 6 (n = 1,266)
  • November 2016: Fielded November 18 – December 1 (n = 1,226)
  • March 2016: Fielded March 18 – 31 (n = 1,204)
  • October 2015: Fielded September 30 – October 19 (n = 1,330)
  • March 2015: Fielded February 27 – March 10 (n = 1,263)
  • October 2014: Fielded October 17 – 28 (n = 1,275)
  • April 2014: Fielded April 15 – 22 (n = 1,013)
  • November 2013: Fielded November 23 – December 9 (n = 830)
  • April 2013: Fielded April 10 – 15 (n = 1,045)
  • September 2012: Fielded August 31 – September 12 (n = 1,061)
  • March 2012: Fielded March 12 – 30 (n = 1,008)
  • November 2011: Fielded October 20 – November 16 (n = 1,000)
  • May 2011: Fielded April 23 – May 12 (n = 1,010)
  • June 2010: Fielded May 14 – June 1 (n = 1,024)
  • January 2010: Fielded December 24, 2009 – January 3, 2010 (n = 1,001).
  • November 2008: Fielded October 7 – November 12 (n = 2,164).
    • Data were collected over two periods: from October 7 – 20 and from October 24 – November 12. Margin of error plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Rounding error and tabulation

In data tables, bases specified are unweighted, while percentages are weighted to match national population parameters.

For tabulation purposes, percentage points are rounded to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given figure or table may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. Summed response categories (e.g., “strongly agree” + “somewhat agree”) are rounded after sums are calculated. For example, in some cases, the sum of 25% + 25% might be reported as 51% (e.g., 25.3% + 25.3% = 50.6%, which, after rounding, would be reported as 25% + 25% = 51%).

Appendix III: Sample Demographics

Sample demographics can be found on p. 112 of the PDF version of the report:

Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Rosenthal, S., Kotcher, J., Goddard, E., Carman, J., Ballew, M., Verner, M., Marlon, J., Lee, S., Myers, T., Goldberg, M., Badullovich, N., & Thier, K. (2023). Climate Change in the American Mind: Beliefs & Attitudes, Fall 2023. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, King Philanthropies, and the Grantham Foundation.