Who are the climate change deniers?

August 13, 2014, 2:32 PM GMT+0

Republicans are far more skeptical of human-caused climate change than most Americans, who also tend to think that climate change will have a noticeable impact within their lifetimes

Nine percent of Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll say the earth’s climate is not changing. 24% say there won’t be any climate change effects, like rising sea levels and more intense storms, in their own lifetimes. These climate change deniers are better-off than average, more conservative, and more Republican.

20% of Republicans say the earth’s climate is not changing. Those Republicans who admit it is are nearly twice as likely to say it has nothing to do with human activity as to say it does. For the population as a whole, more than half believe in climate change and attribute it to human activity.

Most climate change deniers don’t think there is a scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and is caused by human activity, and nearly half have no trust that whatever climate scientists say would be the truth. That is very different from the opinions of the public overall.

Deniers have little trust in any source when it comes to telling the truth about climate change, but they are more willing to trust military officials to tell the truth. Only a third of deniers have no trust in the military. Although their trust in GOP politicians is higher than their trust in Democrats or government officials, it is not much better than their trust in climate scientists.

Nearly half of Republicans (45%) don’t expect they will have to deal with the effects of climate change in their lifetimes, claiming they won’t see rising sea levels, more severe storms and other problems in their lifetimes.

Republicans are half as likely as the public overall to say they have already seen climate change. 44% of all Americans say they have, compared with only 22% of Republicans. The difference is partly due to geography: those who live away from the two coasts are less likely to report climate change activity. And those living in the Northeast and the West are less likely to be Republicans.

But for most Americans, climate change is real. It is also something that developed countries have a role in solving. 60% believe the most developed countries have a greater responsibility than other countries to control greenhouse gases. Most agree that the United States has a particularly important role to play, even at the risk of becoming less competitive. More than one in four aren’t sure.

In addition, a majority thinks the United States has a responsibility to help poorer countries with the effects of climate change.

As on many other climate change questions, Republicans take the opposing view.

There is some hope that government action can slow global warming. By 47% to 30%. Americans think governments can act now to slow climate change.

Americans divide when it comes to evaluating Barack Obama’s performance on handling climate change – and the environment overall. Just about as many disapprove of how he is handling them as approve.

Those numbers are much better that the assessments of the President’s handling of several foreign policy concerns.

Image: PA

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.