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American Concerns Over Climate Change Declining

March 15, 2011

Fewer Americans are concerned about global warming now than they were three years ago, according to the findings of a new Gallup poll released on Monday.

According to the Washington DC-based research organization’s annual Environment poll, which was conducted between March 3 and March 6, 51% of US residents report that they worry a “fair amount” or a “great deal” about climate change. That’s down from 66% in 2008 and only one percent higher than the all-time low, which was recorded during a 1997 Gallup poll.

The results, which have been published to Gallup’s official website, also disclose that 80% of all Americans claim to understand the issue “fairly well” or “very well”–an increase of 6% over the 2006 poll results and 11% since the 2001 Environment poll.

Furthermore, less than half of all US residents (49%) believe that the effects of global warming have already started–a decrease of 12% from three years ago and only one point higher than the all time low in 1997–and the number of people doubting that climate change will ever begin to affect our planet has increased from 11% to 18%, the Gallup researchers said.

“The reasons for the decline in concern are not obvious, though the economic downturn could be a factor,” Gallup analysts told AFP reporters on Monday.

More than four out of every 10 Americans (43%) reported that they believed that seriousness of global warming is exaggerated by the media, while 26% believe that news regarding the issue is generally correct and 29% believe that reporters tend to underestimate the seriousness of the problem.

Democrats were far more likely to worry more about climate change and believe that it had already started impacting Earth, while Republicans were overwhelmingly more likely to believe that the media exaggerates the issue and less likely to believe that pollution from human activity was the cause of an increase in global temperatures.

More than 30 percentage points separated each political ideology on each issue, the Gallup researchers said, adding that “size of these partisan gaps has grown greater over time.”

According to the UPI, “Gallup said 2010′s update marked the closest division of opinion on this issue over the six times Gallup has asked about it. In 2008, Americans said they believed pollution to be the primary cause by a 20-point margin”¦ The telephone poll was conducted March 3-6, with a random sample of 1,021 adults and a margin of error of 4 percentage points.”

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