Survey Finds Americans Are Confused About Climate Change But Support Climate Policy


Katy Evans

Katy is Managing Editor at IFLScience where she oversees editorial content from News articles to Features, and even occasionally writes some.

Managing Editor

82 percent of Americans support funding research into renewables. geniusksy/Shutterstock

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication has just released the results of its 2016 survey on the public opinion of Americans about climate change, and the findings conclude that, well, Americans are really quite confused by it.

The good news is that the survey reveals a broad support for climate policies and cutting carbon pollution in every state and county in the US, in a rather large contrast to America's current president and his administration. The slightly less good news is that most Americans don’t consider climate change an immediate threat, but more of a distant issue.


The Yale Climate Opinion Maps gathers all of the information from the survey and displays it in handy interactive maps that can show you instantly what each state, congressional district, county, or metro area thinks about various questions posed to them by the survey.

For example, according to the survey, 70 percent of Americans believe global warming is happening (ding ding ding, they’re correct), yet only 49 percent think that scientists believe it is happening, and that there is disagreement amongst the scientific community (bzzzt, sorry folks, 97 percent of scientists agree it’s happening).

The map shows 70 percent of Americans believe global warming is happening. Yale Program on Climate Change Communication 

If we’re going by state, Hawaii, closely followed by New York, have an average of 78 and 77 percent, respectively, who accept climate change is real. West Virginia, on the other hand, has the lowest average, and yet it’s still a majority, at 60 percent, who agree it’s real.


Again contradictorily, 71 percent of Americans trust climate scientists about climate change, but only 53 percent believe global warming is happening mostly due to human activities – despite the evidence climate scientists keep offering.

When it comes to opinions about the risk of climate change, though, the results demonstrated a decline in relating climate change to the here and now in America. Seventy percent thought global warming will harm future generations, 63 percent thought it will harm people in developing countries, 58 percent thought it will harm those in the US, and only 40 percent thought it will harm “me personally”. It was nearly a tie, with only 51 percent of people thinking global warming was already harming people in the US.

content-1488900327-fund-renewables.PNG82 percent of the US wants to fund research into renewable energy. Yale Program on Climate Change Communication  

Figures for climate policy support were much more positive, a whopping 82 percent support funding research into renewable energy sources. This backs up another recent survey that found two-thirds of the US want to explore and invest in renewable energy rather than fossil fuels. Anyway, back to this survey, 75 percent want to regulate CO2 as a pollutant and 69 percent want to set strict CO2 limits on existing coal-fired power plants. It seems pretty clear what Americans want.


If you want to give the country back to the people Mr President, don’t you think you should start listening to what they are saying?


  • tag
  • climate change,

  • global warming,

  • Renewable Energy,

  • survey,

  • Yale,

  • climate opinion maps,

  • public opinion,

  • carbon pollution