Half of Americans Believe Climate Change is Caused by Human Activity

The latest Ipsos poll on climate change shows that while a majority of Americans believe climate change is caused by human activity (51%), a significant minority (31%) believe it is caused by natural patterns and a few (6%) do not think climate change is really happening.

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC - While a majority of Americans believe climate change is caused by human activity (51%), a significant minority (31%) believe it is caused by natural patterns and a few (6%) do not think climate change is really happening. Yet, demographics don’t necessarily define the kinds of people who deny climate change and those who see it as a natural occurrence. Across gender, income levels, region and education levels, a significant contingent believe climate change is natural, or isn’t even happening.

Belief in climate change also colors people’s understanding of real occurrences of climate change. Among climate change deniers, only 24% say that the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets have declined over the last 20 years, as opposed to 71% among those who believe climate change is caused by human activity. Similarly, 57% of Americans who believe climate change is a natural occurrence said the average global temperature has increased over the last 20 years compared to 83% of those who believe climate change is caused by humans.

Similarly, belief, or lack thereof, in climate change determines a person’s willingness to take environmentally friendly actions. Over 50% of Americans who believe climate change is caused by human activity would trade their current vehicle for an electric vehicle, while only a quarter of those who believe it’s caused by natural patterns would (24%). While only a third of those who believe climate change is not happening would pay an additional $100 in taxes a year, 53% of those would believe climate change is caused by human activity would be willing to pay. Those who believe climate change is caused by human activity are more willing to make sacrifices for the environment than those who completely deny it and those who believe it’s a natural occurrence. Compared to ten years ago, do you think the following have become more or less frequent where you live, or has there been no change?

The topline results and data tables are available for download.

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted April 19-20, 2017. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,009 adults from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 350 Democrats,  339 Republicans, and 194 Independents. The sample also includes 493 respondents who answered “Climate change is caused by human activity,” 322 respondents who answered “Climate change is caused by natural patterns,” and 64 respondents who answered “Climate change is not really happening.” The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,009, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=5). The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 6.0 percentage points for Democrats, plus or minus 6.1 percentage points for Republicans, and plus or minus 8.0 percentage points for Independents. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.0 percentage points for respondents who answered “Climate change is caused by human activity,” plus or minus 6.2 percentage points for respondents who answered “Climate change is caused by natural patterns,” and plus or minus 14 percentage points for respondents who answered “Climate change is not really happening.” Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, region, race/ethnicity and income.For more information about Ipsos online polling methodology, please go here: http://goo.gl/yJBkuf 

For more information on this news release please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
202.420.2011
chris.jackson@ipsos.com

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In Canada, the U.S., UK, and internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,782.7 million in 2016.

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Vice President, US, Public Affairs

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