Stanford poll: The vast majority of Americans know global warming is real

Florida, Maine, and Massachusetts residents agree: Global warming is here and we’re causing it.

By Kalen Pruss of CAP’s executive team.

Large majorities of Florida, Maine, and Massachusetts residents believe that global warming is real””and that humans are causing it.

So says the latest poll from Jon Krosnick, senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.  Krosnick found that large majorities of Florida, Maine, and Massachusetts residents believe that:

  • The Earth has been getting warming gradually over the last 100 years (81 percent, 78 percent, and 84 percent, respectively).
  • This warming is mostly or partly due to human activity (72 percent, 76 percent, and 80 percent).
  • The U.S. government should take action to limit the greenhouse gas emissions of businesses (74 percent, 77 percent, and 77 percent), with at least 74 percent of all such respondents agreeing that the government should move to limit emissions right away.
  • A cap-and-trade permit trading system should be implemented to reduce businesses’ greenhouse gas emissions (68 percent, 72 percent, and 77 percent).

The poll also found that only around 20 percent of participants thought that limiting emissions would negatively affect the economy, and more than half would vote for a law mandating emissions cuts of 85% by 2050″”even if it cost their household $150 a year.

The results from Krosnick’s state-by-state poll mirror those of his national poll released in June, and his other polls taken earlier this year.   (See Krosnick’s NYT op-ed, “The Climate Majority,” and “Large majority of Americans continue to believe global warming is real“).   And they contrast sharply with recent polls, such as the Rasmussen Report numbers out last week, that deceptively find little belief that “human activity” is the cause of global warming.

That’s because Rasmussen uses a computer to make phone calls, says Krosnick, and asks vague and confusing questions that lead to less certain answers.  Rasmussen asks if respondents if “planetary trends” cause global warming, for example, a phrase Krosnick attacks as meaningless.  In the past, Krosnick has demonstrated that asking clearer questions better gages public concern for global warming, and that this concern has largely remained consistent over time (see “Opinion polls underestimate Americans’ concern about the environment and global warming,” and “USA Today: Some scientists misread poll data on global warming controversy“).

Krosnick’s July poll confirms this trend: belief in manmade global warming, and support for action to counter it, remains strong.  Local weather patterns””unusually warm winters in Maine, or unusually cool summers in Massachusetts””appear to affect public sentiment very little.  Respondents even indicated that they were very likely to vote for candidates who gave a public statement supporting action to combat climate change, and more likely to vote for a candidate who had given such a statement than one who had not.

But elected officials aren’t making very many public statements about climate change, and they’re certainly not taking action to mitigate it.  If the results of Krosnick’s polls are anywhere near accurate, public sentiment is no excuse for not taking immediate action on climate.

47 Responses to Stanford poll: The vast majority of Americans know global warming is real

  1. Harley Smith says:

    Temps rising by 9 degrees per century in Nepal. They have one thermometer and is is under a heat lamp. W UWT

  2. Daniel Ives says:

    I hope Obama, Rahm, Axelrod, and every congressman up for election sees and understands this.

  3. I wonder if they did a survey before evacuating the Titanic.

  4. mike roddy says:

    It never was an issue of politicians wanting to please their constituencies. It’s about the easy cash they can collect from oil and coal, including post political career lobbying gigs.

    This is indicative of a softening of Americans’ moral and spiritual centers. When the people finally wake up and throw out the whores in charge we will see change.

  5. Arkitkt says:

    Well, that is great news…. BUT the problem is that the residents of our other not-so enlightened states, the South and midwest, are the sticking point in this debate. Them and their political leaders are holding steadfast to ridiculous accounts of global warming, evolution, science, history, and economy.

  6. Not A Lawyer says:

    To be nitpicky, but that’s not a NYT story. Climatewire and Greenwire are publications of a DC-based energy and environmental policy news provider that syndicate some of its stories on the Times’ web site.

  7. Raul M. says:

    For years the Republican National Committee
    was sending me invitations to recontribute
    to the Bush election even though When he was
    appointed by the US Supreme Court I changed
    party, had never contributed, and wrote back
    saying that I wasn’t of their party and wouldn’t

  8. Leif says:

    Clearer questions give more accurate poll results. What a surprise.

    So… We have ~ 80% of the public concerned about climatic disruption and still no action in the Halls of Congress where less than half of it’s members are able to stop any progress on climatic mitigation.

    Is it any wonder the that the population is loosing faith in our political process?

    Is there any doubt that BIG MONEY controls politics for their benefit?

    Can there be any doubt that BIG MONEY is willing to sell the well being of humanity to enhance their personal profits?

    If you have a dog in this fight, can there be any question where you want to place your bet?

    As push comes to shove, it is crucial that the GOBP, FOX, and their mindless hordes be held accountable. Fortunately their efforts are well documented. They must PAY!

  9. Lore says:

    Belief in climate change is one thing, action is another. I find that even with those friends I have that are aware of a warming planet, they feel compelled to do little about it. While much of our time is spent struggling to convince those who will not be, the larger arguments loom ahead as to what we will do to mitigate global warming. These are fights that will take even longer then those of the past 30 years. That is unless several defining events happen, at which point, it may be far too late to do much of anything.

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    Fairhaven, MA: Dead Fish Wash Ashore In Thousands, Lack Of Oxygen In Warm Waters To Blame (VIDEO)

    Marine fisheries explained that the fish were killed due to a lack of oxygen caused by warm waters. All of the fish were Menhaden, which are especially sensitive to such changes, and they may have been dead for days prior to washing up on the beach.

  11. Jeff Huggins says:

    On Stanford (and the role of universities in all this)

    Bravo to Jon Krosnick for this, and thanks to CAP for covering it. Very helpful.

    That said, something deserves consideration by someone (who?), illustrated by these points …

    A Stanford prof and member of the Hoover Institution at Stanford, Michael Boskin, is a long-time member of ExxonMobil’s Board of Directors. Indeed, as far as I understand, he is the second-longest-serving member of the Board, serving for well over a decade. (I think it has been 14 years, but I haven’t cross-checked recently.) I’m only partly familiar with the overall layout of the campus, but my guess is that you can probably walk from Jon’s office to Michael Boskin’s office without too much difficulty — and it’s probably a very scenic walk, given the beauty of the campus. The offices of other great Stanford folks, who are also deeply concerned about climate change (e.g., Paul Ehrlich, and Stephen Schneider before he sadly passed away, and others), are also nearby.

    ExxonMobil enjoys telling about its funding of a project at Stanford, using that to gain or maintain credibility even as they delay responsible action on climate change and publish confusing and misleading messages via their campaigns.

    An odd and very confused (in some important ways) article is running in the current “The American Scholar”, called “The Earth Doesn’t Care If You Drive a Hybrid”, by Stanford physicist and Nobel Prize winner Robert B. Laughlin.

    Stanford — I believe the law school, but it could be the business school — runs perhaps the most prestigious multi-day educational program for members of corporate Boards. (The ads appear in Fortune or Forbes, periodically.) As far as I can tell from looking at simple summaries of the program, my guess is that they don’t spend time discussing the responsibility of companies to face and help address the global warming and energy problems, at least not seriously.

    So, even as we hear that 97 percent of relevant scientists agree that global warming is real, and even as we see poll results that suggest that growing numbers of people hold that understanding, to a degree, we see a situation — and there are probably many like it — where a leading university is playing a very fragmented and mixed-up role as it relates to helping the public, and major institutions, understand and wisely address the problem. Unfortunately, except for the frequent mentions of Stephen Schneider in the climate blogs and within the climate community, I hear the name ‘Stanford’ used more frequently by deniers and delayers, to deny the problem or delay action, or otherwise gain credibility for themselves, than I hear it associated with confident and responsible statements supporting responsible action.

    If we were talking about opinions about flavors of ice cream, or about different economic theories, or whatever, such fragmentation, different views, and resulting net incoherence would be understandable and not too harmful. But, with climate change, we are talking about a Vital Issue, and The Stakes are Big.

    I’d like to hear from some Stanford folks, including students. What do you think? There are some great and well-motivated efforts taking place at Stanford, and I applaud them. But Stanford’s name is being used — often — in ways that enhance denialism or delayism. It’s being used in a way that borrows or buys credibility for folks who are denying and delaying. And, Stanford faculty and programs are sending very mixed and fragmented messages regarding climate change.

    This is one of the sorts of issues, or questions, we will have to face in our time, soon, if we are going to effectively address such immense issues as climate change. The great universities will have to understand and define themselves, and muster at least some degree of coherence, when it comes to these immense issues. Otherwise, they and their names and faculties will, in essence, be “up for sale”: “Do you want someone within the Stanford brand who will be happy to tell you that global warming is false, or will be happy to give you a mixed-up message of delay, or will be happy to teach your Board members that their overarching responsibility is to only make money, all for a fee or in order to get an article published? Well, we’ve got a dozen of those. And feel free to mention us when you do.”

    Time for coffee.

    Thanks again for the great post, Jon and CAP.

    Be Well,


  12. Dean says:

    I don’t want to be the cold water here, but when it comes to our sclerotic political system, the underlying opinion is not as important as the importance that people feel about an issue. If 100% of the people think AGW is correct, but it rates 75th on their list of important issues, it is not going to be addressed by the political system. The political system responds to both well-financed and passionate constituencies. The NRA is a textbook example of how a passionate minority can get the political system to go against a majority. And why Bill McKibben’s recent push – to get mad – is probably the right point.

  13. PSU Grad says:

    @ Leif #9:

    “Can there be any doubt that BIG MONEY is willing to sell the well being of humanity to enhance their personal profits?”

    I have a perfect example here in Pennsylvania. If you go to the Pennsylvania Manufacturer’s Association web site you see two “interesting” links. One, on the right, is labeled “The Green Jobs myth”. Another, at the top, is labeled “‘Global Warming’ movement bites the dust”. They’re both links to other articles, but are nonetheless instructive.

    This is allegedly a “manufacturer’s association”. Aren’t wind turbines “manufactured”? Aren’t solar panels “manufactured”? So why would a “manufacturer’s association” come out against something that needs to be “manufactured”?

    The answer is, to paraphrase “Animal Farm”, that some manufacturers are clearly more equal than others. Specifically, those that pay up. Those that use plenty of fossil fuels. But I suspect if the green manufacturers provided a little cash to these “associations”, you’d see a change in their philosophies, not to mention some disappearing links. I’m not saying they should, only that these people base their “opinions” solely on who’s paying them. There’s no integrity, no conscious examination, no scholarship, etc. Only cold, hard cash.

  14. Colorado Bob says:

    Robbing Renewable Energy to Pay Teachers

    The only growth industry I can see is making sandals from old rubber tires.

  15. Jeff Huggins says:

    Regarding Dean’s Comment 13, and Getting Mad

    If Bill McKibben’s recent push is “to get mad”, he is onto something that Homer, Aristotle, and others have been onto for some time now. Bertrand Russell, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and many others figured out the same thing. In his very effective way, so did Gandhi.

    Although I don’t have the quote in front of me, it is healthy, wise, and indeed necessary to get angry, sometimes, for the right reason, in the right way, at the right people, at the right times, and so forth. I’m sorry to say it, and I wish it weren’t the case, but that’s the way positive change often has to happen.

    I’m eager to hear more about Bill’s latest thinking.



  16. mike roddy says:

    Jeff, Stanford sold its soul years ago, even before the Hoover Institute “think tank” set up shop there. Its students and grads are mostly from the wealthy classes. These days the ties to oil are more obvious ($500 million gift from oil companies) and necessary (oil stocks are the only long term safe ones in their portfolios).

    I’m a Cal guy, so it’s a natural antipathy. Cal has sold out too (BP gift), but the culture there balances it. Stanford, by contrast, is crazed with greed.

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    Green Peace was right –

    Moscow – Russian forestry officials confirmed Wednesday that areas contaminated by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster have been more widely affected by the current wildfires than authorities have admitted, Interfax news agency reported.

    The heavily contaminated Bryansk region alone has seen 28 fires covering an area of 269 hectares that have since been extinguished, the officials said.,sites-confirmed-update.html

  18. Prokaryotes says:

    “Robbing Renewable Energy to Pay Teachers”

    Someone needs to teach the coal baron doctrine to the youth.

  19. Prokaryotes says:

    The entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C, with severe consequences for the rest of the world, a panel of scientists told Congress today.

    The fall-out would be felt thousands of miles away from the Arctic, unleashing a global sea level rise of 23ft (7 metres), Alley warned. Low-lying cities such as New Orleans would vanish.

    “What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done,” he said.

    ***Ding, ding, ding alarm bell sound*** It will be nashlantis all over the place …

  20. Rick Covert says:

    20 or 30 years from now no one will remember the financial deficits that forced the states to lay off teachers, firemen and police or that we took it from renewables research. They will know that WE failed to solve the climate crisis when we had the chance but I don’t think they will care too much as they struggle in the refugee camp withering under the heat or worry about getting their next meal and avoiding the food riots. (…oh yeah, Soylent Green is people!)

  21. Colorado Bob says:

    Flotilla of stinging jellyfish hit Spanish beach

    A vast flotilla of small, virtually undetectable jellyfish stung hundreds of people along Spanish beaches this week, the kind of swimmer’s nightmare that biologists say will be increasingly common…

  22. Leif says:

    PSU Grad, @14; “So why would a “manufacturer’s association” come out against something that needs to be “manufactured”?”

    Another important reason is that the established manufacturing entities have made substantial profits within the “free dump” mentality and have cash to throw around preserving the status quo. Sustainable industries just do not have money to buy politicians and media. In my view, I hope that they never do as both media and politicians should not be pandering to BIG MONEY in the first place. But of course that is a different story.

    Humanity First, Status Quo, NO!

  23. MarkB says:

    I was just thinking the other day that U.S. polls on whether or not global warming is real or caused by human activities are almost never conducted in the summer. Makes sense. The argument would be that it would bias the results in favor of global warming. However, this doesn’t prevent pollsters from conducting such polls in the dead of winter. Over the last few years, here’s the tally on polls that ask questions on the reality of global warming, its cause, and/or impacts/concerns, over the last couple of years:

    Sept: 1
    Oct: 2
    Nov: 2
    Dec: 5
    March: 2
    April: 2
    May: 1
    July: 1 (Stanford)

    To be fair (snark), Gallup did conduct a poll this summer…in Australia.

  24. MarkB says:

    I tend to agree with Dean in #13. Many (if not most) Republicans would lose their primary races if they supported reducing GHG emissions. Democrats in conservative districts have similar pressures. It’s make-or-break issue for fanatical deniers/alarmists who believe reducing emissions will cause great economic catastrophe.

    While most support emissions reductions, most will not vote against a candidate because of their stance on carbon pricing. Immediate economic issues usually take precedence, at least in swing districts.

    So yeah…some considerable Rommian-style passion is much needed. There’s no shortage of that on the denier side. The difference is we need to stay true to the science in the process. I thought the George Shultz (Reagan’s Secretary of State) latimes article was on the money in this sense. It was both a passionate and fact-based article in support of California’s cap and trade system. It contained some important sweeping themes on climate, pollution, national security, and energy.

  25. NASA global July temp not yet published, but thumbnail-map reveals 0.71C warmer than normal; would be hottest ever:

  26. Comment 26 might be mistaken. Reaction from Gavin Schmidt @Realclimate: Please do not jump the gun on issues like this because misunderstandings (the little gif is for the met-station index, not the land-ocean index) will end up being blasted around the web as if they were official press releases. They are not, so please be patient while the data are checked. – gavin

  27. Bruce says:

    I live in MA and spend lots of time in ME.

    We are seeing lots of little changes that add up to “It’s happening”.

    To wit:
    Warmer seawater, sharks, invasive crabs, other invasive sea species.
    Record high temps: as Joe has noted, more record highs than record lows.
    My family has seen high tide rise to places it never was before, except in northeasters.
    Record early ice-out’s on the lakes and ponds. People who used to cross the ice safely are falling thru the ice.
    Warmer than usual winter, less snow than usual, ski areas hurting.
    Two 50-year storms in one month, lots of flooding, and FEMA is updating flood-plain maps for a more pessimistic future. (The storms might have nothing to do with AGW, but does cause people to pay more attention to the FEMA floodplain designations.)
    Crops coming in earlier (this can be a good effect.)
    The TV weathermen who hype the record highs somehow never mention global warming; I guess the likely cause is not newsworthy.

    Actually, it’s been pretty nice weather this summer. Non-Puritans might not see this as bad.

  28. Francine Smith says:

    Forty-six percent (46%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -22

    How badly do people want to be accepting of polls?

  29. Peter Mizla says:

    The weather in Connecticut this year has been strange to say the least.

    Mild winter with little snowfall. Rainy, mild March with intense rain- the state received over 16″. The states southeast corner suffered damaging floods.

    A mild winter transitioned into a very warm spring. I say to friends that summer this year began in April.

    Two 100 degree days in July. June was the warmest in the states history-July tied for the warmest. 25 90 degree days or better.

    3 tornado touchdowns causing extensive damage- at least 8 other tornado warnings. I wonder what is in store for us the remainder of the summer and into Autumn.

    The local weather forecasters just mention the records being broken- with heat, storms and discomfort- but I have yet heard any of them mention the world ‘Global warming’ of ‘climate change.

  30. Rebecca says:

    I’m a Stanford grad who lives in one of those “unenlightened” areas. Our local paper runs whatssisbooty’s — Thomas Sowell is his name– the Times runs his editorials. Sowell is from the Hoover Institute. The byline on his anti-science missives states that he’s from Stanford, and people throw this back at me all the time, stating that Stanford doesn’t think climate change is real. Very frustrating.
    Point #2, I work at a science center and HOOboy would we LOVE to get some funding to do climate science in this unenlightened area. The National Science Foundation, NOAA, EPA and others really must reserve some money to fund education for the geographical areas where climate change is considered a hoax… otherwise there is always someone down here to counteract your enlightened Mainer/Floridian/Californian vote. (And you know we breed faster, too.)

  31. RH factor says:

    I understand polling outfits start out with a political bias already and in some cases get caught making it up. I’m ACTUALLY SURPRISED that we “scientifically retarded Americans” have figured it out at least in those said states. Not sure a Georgia Alabama Texas, Wyoming would rate so high. I know a Vermont would likely surpass where people here are more in tune with the even small changes in their gardens and the like.

    You almost wish for a Russian style catastrophe to educate the dummies. But I’m pretty certain we’ll get ours. “what goes around cometh around”

  32. DavidCOG says:



    Might you be interested in tackling Barry Brook over his atrocious commentary on nuclear and renewables? His latest is shameful: “Nuclear Power or Climate Change: Take Your Pick – Renewable energy does not work” –

  33. Doug Bostrom says:

    Francine Smith says: August 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Do some research on the difference between how social scientists do elicitation versus pollsters. It’s somewhat akin to the difference between ophthalmology versus optometry.

  34. Lou Grinzo says:

    To control our collective carbon footprint we need to maximize our political footprint.

    This means demonstrating to politicians that a sizable portion of the public will consistently block vote on enviro issues.

    The key words there are “consistently”, which is self-explanatory, and “sizable”, which is freighted with some nuance. The green vote has to be perceived to be large enough that politicians will fear it even when tempted to the dark side by fossil fuel contributions.

    That’s already a large enough hurdle, but we have to do it across enough of the US to overcome the Republicans and “Centrist Democrats” having a 41-seat majority in the Speedbump Senate.

    Or, we could just sit back and wait for a piece of the West Antarctic Ice Shelf the size of Spain to break off and scare everyone who hasn’t been paying attention spitless, and then we can say, “I told you so. Now that Mother Nature has your undivided attention, here’s what we should have been doing decades ago…”

    Honestly, I’m not sure which of those paths has a higher probability of success…

  35. Following up on no. 27: Gavin was of course right: NASA global temperature date just out: July 4th warmest ever (land only,, 5th on land+ocean (

  36. James Newberry says:

    For a half-century the government has been socializing/externalizing massive, identifiable, public costs associated with oxidizing mined carbon materials. Earth sequestered this matter over hundreds of millions of years for today’s Halocene Epoch and sea level.

    In addition, in order to advance a policy of “cheap fuels,” direct and indirect subsidies were and are used to encourage the technologies of combustion.

    After emitting over one trillion tons of carbonic acid gas (CO2) worldwide (much from the US) thereby contaminating our garden Earth, perhaps we should do something different in the 21st century. Especially, with the three types of “fuel” subsidies, which historically for the US so far are $ trillions, including diminished public health and looming public health disasters.

  37. BillD says:

    A few days ago I was a bit concerned and angry about a poll and fund raising mailer that I received from the Democratic National Party. The poll asked me to rank 14 issues by their importance to the country. However, climate was no where to be seen and the only vaguely environmental issue was “energy independence.” I stated that climate change was my top issue and that I would not consider a donation unless the party at least listed it as a potential concern. Did I get the Midwest (Indiana) version of the mailer? How would the party think that “relations with North Korea”, for example, might be more important than all environmental issues.

  38. Windsong says:

    If you people really want to do something about GW, read Derrick Jensen’s books: “What We Leave Behind” and “Endgame”. We have very little time left! The summer arctic sea ice could be gone in a couple years (NASA Glaciologist predicts it gone by 2013). Plus, trees become a source of GW at 1.5 degrees increase in temperature (We’re at about 1.3 degrees at present). We need More Action and Less Talk.

    [JR: “you people”?]

  39. Windsong says:

    As shocking as the MSM are with their hood-blinkered,Colonel Klink approach to GW: “I see nothing; I see nothing!”…

    As disgusting as Republicans are for constantly putting the brakes on when it comes to climate change…

    As disheartening as it is to see Obama refuse to step up to the plate and fully “take on” climate change…

    Perhaps we are just as guilty…

    Deforestation accounts for about 20% of GHG emissions. Has anyone attempted to shut down the logging industry?

    Factory Farming– raising animals for food– accounts for 40% or more of GHG emissions. Has anyone attempted to take out these facilities?

    McDonald’s uses meat produced by destroying tropical forests. Anyone attempt to shut down McDonald’s?

    I’m not advocating breaking the law; I’m just saying that we WHO REALIZE the awful, bare facts concerning GW and refuse to take meaningful action to stop it– perhaps we’re no better than anyone else. Afterall, we know the Truth and all we do is complain. They’re ignorant and are looking out for their financial interests. Perhaps we’re no better than they are.

  40. Windsong says:

    The Constitution declares that it is not only OK to revolt against a Gov’t robbing us of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; it’s our moral obligation to do so!! Everyone on these boards knows that those in power have no interest in stoppin GW… In Romm’s new book, he writes how they are considering how to stop emissions from reaching 1000ppm. 1000PPM!!! We need to demand they act. And if they don’t, we need to do it ourselves. Just like Gandhi did with England.

  41. @42, Windsong: there are no such claims anywhere to be found in the Constitution. I expect you are thinking of the Declaration of Independence.

  42. James Newberry says:

    The rights to life and liberty are part of the Declaration of Independence of the American Revolution. We need a second revolution with a Declaration of Interdependence.

  43. Wit'sEnd says:

    An AP report that describes climate scientists as too “shy” to connect the dots between climate change and individual, record-breaking extreme weather events:

    This is an excellent piece that ties in this summer’s extremes to climate science predictions. Bravo!

    And don’t let’s forget the US Midwest:

  44. Chris Winter says:

    Interesting how the New York Times article paints Krosnik’s poll as the outlier, suspect in comparison to the “old standbys” of Rasmussen, Gallup and Pew. Those three find the public’s concern about global warming has waned in recent years.

    Interesting, yes — but surprising? Not so surprising.

  45. Chris Winter says:

    @Doug Bostrom:

    It’s useless to pay any attention to Festus Smith, whether he uses “Francine” or any other first name.