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US climate poll: the difference a year makes

A survey out this week categorizes Americans according to their attitudes towards climate change – and the two most skeptical camps seem to be shrinking while worry becomes the mainstream view.

The authors, Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale and George Mason University’s Edward Maibach and Andrew Light, report that “Global Warming’s Six Americas” now break down as follows:


For details on the six groups and what people in them say they’re doing about the problem, see the study and Leiserowitz’s post on the Climate Progress blog.

But first check out results from the earlier version of the same poll, released in December 2008:

• Alarmed (19%)

• Concerned (22%)

• Cautious (20%)

• Unconcerned (12%)

• Doubtful (16%)

• Dismissive (11%)

That poll was taken in the summer of 2007, whereas the new numbers are from fall 2008. So over that year or so, roughly a tenth of the country appears to have moved out of the “Doubtful” and “Dismissive” groups – and about the same fraction have become “Concerned”.

The group writes:

The very large size of the Concerned segment—one out of three American adults—and their increasing willingness to express their concern about climate change through changes in their consumer and political behavior, suggests that the United States could be rapidly approaching an important tipping point in public engagement.

Anna Barnett


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