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Rabe, NSEE: with warmest May on record, Americans' acceptance of global warming reaches new high

July 12, 2018

Over the last 10 years, the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment (NSEE) has fielded 19 surveys in which Americans have been asked if they believe there is solid evidence of global warming.

In the latest version of this ongoing research initiative from the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College, a larger percentage of Americans reported that there is solid evidence of global warming than at any time since the survey began in the fall of 2008.

This record level of acceptance of global warming came as the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that May 2018 was the warmest in the continental United States since such record keeping began in 1895.

This report presents time-series data on Americans’ belief in climate change, showing how attitudes have shifted—or not—over the last decade. Read the full report here.

Key Findings:

  • More Americans think that there is solid evidence of global warming than at any time since 2008, with 73% maintaining this view in the latest NSEE polling conducted in late April and May of 2018.
  • This marks the fifth straight survey where at least 70% of Americans think there is evidence that temperatures on the planet are rising.
  • A record 60% of Americans now think that global warming is happening and that humans are at least partially responsible for the rising temperatures.
  • While half of Republicans think that there is solid evidence of global warming, the divide between the 90% of Democrats and the 50% of Republicans that hold this view is as large as any time since 2008.
  • The divide between Democrats and Republicans on the existence of anthropogenic induced global warming is also at record levels with 78% of Democrats now holding the view that humans are at least partially responsible for warming on the planet compared to only 35% of Republicans.

NSEE’s principal researchers are Chris Borick, professor of political science and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion (MCIPO) and Barry Rabe, professor of public policy and director of Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP).

The latest NSEE findings have been widely covered by media outlets, including The Guardian, The Hill, ClimateWire, and the Washington Post.