By Dan Shapley
A growing number of Americans consider global warming an important threat that calls for drastic action, and 40% say that a presidential candidates position on the issue will strongly influence how they vote, according to a national survey conducted by Yale University, Gallup and the ClearVision Institute.
"One of the most surprising findings was the growing sense of urgency," Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change and the studys principal investigator, said in a statement made available to the press. "Nearly half of Americans now believe that global warming is either already having dangerous impacts on people around the world or will in the next 10 years -- a 20-percentage-point increase since 2004. These results indicate a sea change in public opinion."
The surveys findings include:
- 62% of respondents believe that life on earth will continue without major disruptions only if society takes immediate and drastic action to reduce global warming.
- 68% of Americans support a new international treaty requiring the United States to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90% by the year 2050. Yet, Leiserowitz notes, the United States has yet to sign the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that would require the United States to cut its emissions 7% by the year 2012.
- A surprising 40% of respondents say a presidential candidates position on global warming will be either extremely important (16%) or very important (24%) when casting their ballots. With the presidential primaries and general election near, Leiserowitz said, candidates should recognize that global warming has become an important issue for the electorate.
- 85% of those polled support requiring automakers to increase the fuel efficiency of cars, trucks and SUVs to 35 miles per gallon, even if it meant a new car would cost up to $500 more; and 82% support requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20% of their electricity from renewable energy sources, even if it cost the average household an extra $100 a year.
- Majorities of Americans, however, continue to oppose carbon taxes as a way to address global warming -- either in the form of gasoline (67% against) or electricity taxes (71% against).
- Finally, 50% of respondents say they are personally worried -- 15 percent say a great deal -- about global warming. Many Americans, however, believe that global warming is a very serious threat to other species, people and places far away, said Leiserowitz, but not so serious of a threat to themselves, their own families or local communities. Nonetheless, they do strongly support a number of national and international policies to address this problem.
The survey was conducted July 23-26, 2007, using telephone interviews with 1,011 adults, aged 18-plus. Respondents came from Gallups household panel, which was originally recruited through random selection methods. The final sample is considered to be representative of U.S. adults nationwide, with a margin of error of ±4 percentage points.
To see all results, click here.