30% of Republicans now believe the world’s climate is changing as a result of human activity
To a majority of Americans, climate change is real, and it is something for which humans bear the blame. And while most Republicans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll aren’t ready to attribute blame to humans, they recognize that something is going on with the climate. It IS changing.
In the last year, the percentage saying that the world’s climate is changing because of human activity has inched up from 51% last September to 55% today. Republicans saying this rose five points from 25% last year.
Those at each end –– both those who attribute climate change to human activity and those who say there is no climate change taking place – are the most sure of their opinions. But those who see the climate changing but doubt a human link to the change are less sure. Only one in four in this group are absolutely sure of their position, compared with more than four in ten of those who take other positions.
This year, wildfires in the West began earlier in a summer that has been hotter than usual. The current fires are even larger than those that burned last year, which set a record. But to many, it may have been last year’s hurricanes, like Harvey, Irma and Maria, that may have affected climate change thinking. They were three of the five costliest hurricanes to hit the US since 1900, brining the possibility that climate change can affect the weather to the forefront.In this week’s poll, more Americans believe the severity of recent weather events is due to climate change than think those types of events “just happen” from time to time. Last September, answering a question about the cause of the severity of the 2017 hurricanes, belief in the impact of climate change was also there, but the margin was narrower than it is today.
Republicans remain skeptical about the role of climate change in current weather events. In the West, where the drought and wildfires have been at their worst, a majority of 52% attribute severe events to climate change. A third disagree.
A majority thinks the United States has already been harmed by climate change. A third of Republicans agree.
Nearly all of those who think there is human responsibility for climate change claim to have seen harm in this country. Most who see no human role say there has been no harm to the US and most also say they aren’t worried that there will be any harm to the US in the next 50 years.