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November 11, 2009
Is Climate Denial Growing in the US?
    by Robert Kropp

Survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds decreasing numbers believing evidence of global warming, but a majority in favor of a cap-and-trade program as well as an international agreement on climate change.

Last week's Republican boycott of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) vote approving the Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act ( S.1733) is hardly the only news questioning the resolve of Americans to act decisively on climate change in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-15), which begins in Copenhagen on December 7.

In an October survey of 1,500 Americans, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that the percentage of respondents who believe there is solid evidence of global warming has declined since an April 2008 survey, from 71% to 57%. The percentage believing that human activity is responsible for global warming also declined, from 47% to 36%.

The survey, entitled Fewer Americans See Solid Evidence of Global Warming, divided respondents according to political affiliations, and found a significant decrease in the percentage of Independents who see solid evidence of global warming, from 75% to 53%. The percentage of Democrats also decreased, but to a lesser extent, from 83% to 75%.

Considering last week's Republican boycott of the EPW Committee's vote, as well as the fact that only eight House Republicans voted in favor of the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Bill that passed in that chamber in June, that only 35% of professed Republicans see solid evidence of global warming comes as no surprise. Forty-nine percent of Republicans saw such evidence in 2008.

Despite the climate skepticism found by Pew in its survey, half of the Americans surveyed do support a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction, even if such a program leads to higher energy prices. However, a majority of respondents report that they have heard nothing about cap-and-trade. Among those that have heard a lot, 64% opposed limits on GHG emissions.

Fifty-six percent of Americans believe that the US should join other countries to set standards for addressing global climate change, while 32% say that the US should set its own standards.


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