Nine in Ten 8th Graders Agree that Climate Change is Real and Human Activity Significantly Contributes to Climate Change

Driving Cars and Cutting down Trees Seen as Top Contributors to Climate Change

New York, NY - Eighth graders across the United States are not only widely aware of the terms `global warming' and `climate change,' but also near universally agree (94%) that climate change is real, according to a new study conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Avaaz. Further, over eight in ten (85%) agree that human activity significantly contributes to climate change.

These boys and girls are most likely to have heard of the terms `global warming' (93%) and `climate change' (88%), while about eight in ten recognize the terms `ozone layer' (83%) and `fossil fuels' (78%). The term `carbon footprint' (57%) is not quite as widely known, while very few say that they aren't aware of any of these terms (1%).

  • Teens living in high income households are more likely to say that they recognize the terms `climate change' (90%) and `carbon footprint' (60%), compared to those whose parents earn less than $50,000 (83% and 53%, respectively).
  • Those who believe climate change is real are significantly more likely to be familiar with the term `global warming' (94% vs. 87% do not believe climate change is real); while those who do not believe climate change is real are more likely to recognize the term `carbon footprint' (72% vs. 57% who say climate change is real).

While more than eight in ten (85%) eighth graders agree that climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to climate change, this proportion increases to nine in ten (90%) when they are informed about the State Department report about environmental impacts, referenced in a bill that was recently considered in the U.S. Senate. According to the report, several government institutions (such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Research Council, and the United States Global Change Research Program) have concluded that it is extremely likely that human activity is causing temperatures around the world to rise as well as increased levels of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Driving cars and other things that use gasoline is seen as contributing to climate change by nearly nine in ten (87%), while almost three quarters (72%) say the same of chopping down tress which consume carbon dioxide. A majority also see the process of creating electricity for our lights from fossil fuels (56%) as contributing to climate change, while only a third (34%) see raising cows to eat, who produce lots of methane (34%), as a contributor to climate change. Slightly less than one in ten, however, affirm that none of these things contribute to climate change, as climate change is not happening (7%).

  • Eighth graders who believe climate change is real are significantly more likely to say that all of these factors are contributing to climate change, while those who do not believe climate change are significantly more likely to say that none of these apply.
  • Girls (60%) are more likely than boys (51%) to believe that creating electricity from fossil fuels contributes to climate change. Furthermore, those living in the West (92%) are significantly more likely to point the finger to driving cars and other things that use gasoline, compared to those in the Northeast (83%) and South (85%).

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted February 13 - 19, 2015. For the survey, a sample of 1,002 children currently in 8th grade was interviewed online. 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. The data were weighted to the U.S. current population data by gender, age, region and household income based on Census data. Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding.

For more information on this news release please contact:

Rebecca Sizelove Associate Vice President Ipsos Public Affairs 212.584.9253

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.

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