After three record-warm years in a row, Americans are once again evenly split on the seriousness of global warming.
Half of American adults are “concerned believers” of global warming, fearing it’s a serious man-made problem that will pose a threat during their lifetime. It’s the first time in 16 years Gallup has put 50 percent of Americans in this category.
On the other hand, 50 percent of Americans are in the “mixed middle” or ‘cool skeptics” category when it comes to global warming. Skeptics think global warming is exaggerated and not a serious threat.
Those in the “mixed middle” mostly believes warming is man-made and a concern, but only one-third think it will pose a threat in their lifetimes. Nearly half of middlers believe the media has exaggerated the issue: “50% of Americans now take all aspects of global warming seriously — classifying them as Concerned Believers,” Gallup reported.
“That contrasts with most years from 2001 through 2016, when Gallup found the majority qualifying as Mixed Middle or Cool Skeptics on the issue.”
The percentage of global warming “believers” shot up from 37 percent in 2015 to 47 percent in 2016. That number shot up slightly again in 2017 to 50 percent. Climate scientists declared 2014, 2015 and 2016 the warmest years on record.
Wacky weather definitely plays a role in how the public perceives the validity of global warming, according to Gallup. One-third of Americans, for example, believe global warming played a role in this winter’s warm weather.
President Obama could have also played a role in changing Americans’ perception of the issue by making a concerted push in his second term to impose global warming policies.
President Trump could have also amplified worries about global warming among Democrats. Trump promised to roll back Obama-era climate policies, which may have some liberals more concerned about warming down the road.
“Any of these could cause the ranks of Concerned Believers to expand further or shrink in the coming years, but for now, they represent the single largest global warming opinion group,” Gallup reported.
Concern about global warming is largely split along partisan lines — global warming “believers,” for example tend to be young, female and Democrat. Skeptics tend to be older, male and have a higher percentage of college graduates.
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