By 5:1 Ratio, Americans Think Global Warming is Happening, New Survey Finds

A new nationally representative survey finds that a large majority of Americans think global warming is happening, outnumbering those who don’t by 5 to 1. Americans are also growing more certain that global warming is happening. Certainty has increased 12 percentage points in the past three years, with 49 percent of the public now “extremely” or “very sure” that global warming is happening.
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“Americans are increasingly convinced global warming is happening and are worried about it,” said lead researcher Anthony Leiserowitz of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “This is in stark contrast to the efforts of the Trump administration to roll back climate policies.”

Other key findings include:
  • 58 percent of Americans understand that global warming is mostly human-caused.
  • 21 percent are “very worried” about global warming — nearly twice the proportion in March 2015.
  • 61 percent think global warming is affecting weather in the United States, and 29 percent think weather is being affected “a lot.”
  • 39 percent think people in the United States are being harmed by global warming “right now” — an increase of 7 percentage points since March 2015.
  • 42 percent think they or their family (47 percent) will be harmed by global warming. Majorities think global warming will harm people in the U.S. (58 percent), people in developing countries (62 percent), the world's poor (63 percent), future generations of people (71 percent) and/or plant and animal species (71 percent).
  • 63 percent say the issue of global warming is important to them personally — an increase of 7 percentage points since March 2015.
  • The most important reasons Americans give for taking action to reduce global warming is to “provide a better life for our children and grandchildren” (24 percent), “prevent the destruction of most life on the planet” (16 percent), or “protect God’s creation (12 percent).
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“More Americans are coming to understand that climate change isn’t only a problem that will affect future generations and people far away,” said co-lead researcher Ed Maibach of George Mason University. “They are beginning to understand that climate change is already happening in their community, now, and they are growing increasingly concerned.”

These findings come from a nationally representative survey (Climate Change in the American Mind) conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The survey of 1,278 American adults, aged 18 and older, was conducted March 7 – 24, 2018 on the GfK KnowledgePanel.

The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the Grantham Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.

In addition to Leiserowitz and Maibach, principal investigators included Connie Roser-Renouf and John Kotcher, of George Mason University, and Seth Rosenthal and Matthew Cutler of Yale University.

For questions about the survey, please contact:
Anthony Leiserowitz, 203-432-4865,
Edward Maibach, 703-993-1587,

For more information, please visit.


PUBLISHED: April 18, 2018
Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles posted prior to July 1, 2020, refer to the School's name at that time.