One-Third of Americans Believe Climate Change is Caused by Human Activity

By | April 20, 2010 | 8:09 PM EDT

( – One-third of Americans believe that global climate change is a man-made phenomenon, and nearly 60 percent say there is serious disagreement in the scientific community about the cause of climate change, according to two new Rasmussen polls.
In April 2008, 47 percent of Americans said they believed that global warming was caused by human activity. But according to Rasmussen, that number has dropped to 33 percent -- a 14 point decline in two years. 
When asked: “Is Global Warming caused primarily by human activity or by long term planetary trends?”
-- 33 percent said “human activity”
-- 48 percent said “long term planetary trends”
-- 11 percent said “some other reason”
--   9 percent said they were not sure. 

The pollster also found that 59 percent of American voters think “there is significant disagreement within the scientific community” on global warming. Twenty-five percent said “scientists agree on global warming.” Another 15 percent were not sure.

Another poll finding shows that 59 percent of Americans believe it’s at least somewhat likely that scientists falsified data to support their own theories and beliefs on the issue. 

Meanwhile, fewer Americans overall think that global warming is a serious problem, according to the Rasmussen Report. 

One year ago, 62 percent of voters said they believed global warming was a serious problem, but that number has dropped to 54 percent -- with only 21 percent saying they believe it is “a very serious problem.”

The number of people who question the seriousness of global warming crossed into the 40th percentile for the first time ever this past January, at 43 percent. 

At the same time, 71 percent of Americans said that stimulating the economy to create more jobs is a bigger priority for U.S. leaders than stopping global warming.

The need to deal with global warming leaves many Americans evenly divided, compared with a majority in 2008 who believed in the need to deal with global warming. Forty-three percent say we need to take immediate action to stop it. On the other hand, 43 percent now say we should wait a few years to see if global warming is real before making major changes.

The report also shows that a plurality of Americans (47 percent) see a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection. Thirty percent do not see this conflict, while 23 percent are not sure. 

The two random telephone surveys of 1,000 adults were conducted April 14-15 and April 15-16, each with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points, with a 95 percent level of confidence.