Three out of four Americans believe that the Earth has been gradually warming as the result of human activity and want the government to institute regulations to stop it, according to a new survey by researchers at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.
The survey was conducted by Woods Institute senior fellow Jon Krosnick, a professor of communication and political science at Stanford, with funding from the National Science Foundation. The results are based on telephone interviews conducted June 1-7 with 1,000 randomly selected American adults.
When respondents in the survey were asked if the Earth's temperature probably had been heating up over the last 100 years, 74% said yes, and 75% said that human behavior was mainly responsible for any warming that has occurred.
Several questions in the June survey addressed the so-called ‘climategate’ controversy, which made headlines in late 2009 and earlier this year.
‘Growing public skepticism has, in recent months, been attributed to news reports about e-mail messages hacked from the computer system at the University of East Anglia in Britain – characterized as showing climate scientists colluding to silence unconvinced colleagues – and by the discoveries of alleged flaws in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),’ says Krosnick. ‘Our survey discredited this claim in multiple ways.’
For example, only 9% of respondents said they knew about the East Anglia e-mail messages and believed they indicate that climate scientists should not be trusted, and only 13% said the same about the controversial IPCC reports.
In addition, 86% of respondents said they wanted the federal government to limit the amount of air pollution that businesses emit, and 76% favored government limitations on greenhouse gas emissions generated by businesses. Only 14% said that the U.S. should not take action to combat global warming unless other major industrial countries like China and India do so as well.
Other survey results include the following:
– 78% opposed taxes on electricity to reduce consumption, and 72% opposed taxes on gasoline;
– 84% favored the federal government's offering tax breaks to encourage utilities to make more electricity from water, wind and solar power;
– Four out of five respondents favored the government's requiring or offering tax breaks to encourage the production of cars that use less gas (81%), appliances that use less electricity (80%), and homes and office buildings that require less energy to heat and cool (80%); and
– 18% said that policies to reduce global warming would increase unemployment.