Nov 19, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Poll: 52% of Americans say they've experienced effects of global warming

52% of Americans agree they have personally experienced the effects of global warming
Data: "Climate Change in the American Mind;" Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

According to new results from a national poll from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, a record high of seven-in-10 Americans said they are at least "somewhat worried" about global warming. This beats out the findings from the same question dating back to 2008.

Why it matters: Americans are increasingly perceiving climate change as a current danger affecting them personally, a development that could shift attitudes toward federal policy.

Context: The extreme weather events that occurred during the past year show up in the results. Virtually every part of the U.S. saw extremes tied largely to climate change, such as the unprecedented heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, wildfires in the West and more.

Details: 55% think people in the U.S. are being harmed by global warming "right now," which is a record high for this polling that dates back to 2008.

  • Similarly, a record high of 52% of respondents said they have personally experienced the effects of global warming, the first time there has been a majority.
  • A broad majority think global warming is happening, outnumbering climate doubters by a ratio of 6:1, the survey found.
  • The poll also found that six-in-10 Americans understand that global warming is mostly human-caused, while about 27% think it’s mostly natural in origins.
  • Half think they will be harmed by global warming (a record high), with larger majorities saying climate change will harm people in the U.S. (68%), the world's poor (70%), and future generations (74%).

Yes, but: Despite the record highs in recognition of the threat climate change poses to them, 61% of Americans said they "rarely" or "never" talk about global warming with family and friends. And the Yale results contrast with findings from a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week, which showed a widening partisan divide on climate change.

  • It found the proportion of Democrats who see climate change as a serious threat has gone up during the past seven years, to 95%.
  • But during the same period, the share of Republicans who say climate change is a serious problem fell by 10 points, to 39%.

The Yale poll was conducted between Sept. 10-20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The Post-ABC poll was conducted Nov. 7 to 10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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