Pew: Only 27% of Americans Believe There is Consensus That Human Activity Causes Climate Change

Matthew Hrozencik | December 7, 2016 | 2:45pm EST
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President Obama speaking at the United Nations COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris on Nov. 30, 2015. (AP photo)

( – A recent survey by the non-partisan Pew Research Center found that a large majority of Americans are skeptical about the prevailing scientific understanding of climate change, with only 27 percent saying they believe there is a consensus that human activity is its main cause.

That belief is at odds with the scientific community, Pew noted, citing a 2013 report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that concluded “with 95% certainty that human activity is the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

The Pew survey was conducted between May 10 and June 6 as a part of an examination of  public attitudes about scientific research related to climate change and genetically modified foods.

The survey found that only 28% of Americans surveyed believe that climate scientists understand the causes of climate change “very well’- compared to 32% who said that scientists had a "not at all well" understanding of the causes of climate change 

It also suggested that despite their skepticism over the cause of climate change, Americans still tend to trust information on it provided by climate scientists over other sources, including the energy industry, the news media, and elected officials.

Pew reported that 39% of those surveyed said that they trust climate scientists “a lot to give full and accurate information”, while only 7% answered that they trust energy industry leaders and the news media to do so.

Only 4% of survey respondents said they trusted elected officials to provide accurate information on climate change.

The study also found a deep divide between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, with 54% of liberal Democrats saying they believe that climate scientists understand the causes of climate change “very well” -  a view supported by only 11% of conservative Republicans.

Moderate- to- liberal Republicans and moderate- to- conservative Democrats fell somewhere in between that wide 43% gap.

However, roughly two-thirds of those surveyed (67 percent), believe climate scientists should have a major role in making policy decisions about climate change, compared to 56% of Americans who believe that the general public should have a major role.

Related: Majority of Americans Don't Buy Climate Change Threat; State Dept. Blames Polling

Related: EPA Chief Insists: 'People Overwhelmingly Consider Climate Change a Problem'

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