Poll: Fewer Americans see global warming as a ‘very serious’ problem

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

Public concern about global warming may be on the wane, as a new poll finds the percentage of Americans who view it as a “very serious” problem has dropped six points since last October.

The percentage fell to 33 percent in 2013, down from 39 percent in October 2012, according to a Pew Research Center poll. However, the proportion of people saying it’s still  a “somewhat serious problem” grew from 25 percent last year to 32 percent in 2013.

Moreover, 69 percent of Americans believe there is solid evidence that global temperatures have been rising over the previous decades, while only 27 percent say such proof is lacking. Among those who say global warming is occurring, 42 percent say it’s caused mostly by human activity and only 23 percent say it’s caused by natural patterns in the environment.

Despite widespread belief that science supports global warming, 66 percent of the American people favor building the Keystone XL pipeline to bring tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast region. Only 23 percent of the public opposes building the pipeline.

The Obama administration has delayed approving the pipeline, garnering criticism from Republicans and the oil and gas industry.

“It’s been over four years and thousands of pages of environmental reviews,” said Nebraska Republican Rep. Lee Terry, author of draft legislation to fast-track the pipeline. “The experts have weighed in. Now is the time to build the Keystone Pipeline.”

The Department of State’s review of the pipeline found that it would not have significant negative effects on the environment and would not have a large impact on climate change. But the he report also said that U.S. energy needs could be met without the pipeline, by increased use of rail transportation of oil and other pipelines.

Environmentalists charge that the Keystone pipeline could harm water supplies and would contribute to climate change.

“This pipeline is not in our national interest — the evidence shows it would unlock vast amounts of additional carbon that we cannot afford to burn, extend our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, endanger health and safety, and put critical water resources at risk,” reads a letter from environmentalists to Secretary of State John Kerry.

The Obama administration is not expected to make a final decision on the pipeline’s permit application until mid-summer.

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