The Heat Is Online

Poll: 62 Percent of Americans Want Drastic Climate Action

Americans Consider Global Warming an Urgent Threat


Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Sept. 28, 2007

       Sixty-two percent of respondents to a national survey believe that life on earth will continue without major disruptions only if society takes immediate and drastic action to reduce global warming. 

        Further, 68 percent of Americans support a new international treaty requiring the United States to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90 percent by the year 2050 according to the survey conducted by Yale University, Gallup and the ClearVision Institute. By comparison, the Kyoto Protocol would require the United States to cut its emissions 7 percent by the year 2012.

        One of the most surprising findings was the growing sense of urgency, said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change and the studys principal investigator. Nearly half of Americans now believe that global warming is either already having dangerous impacts on people around the world or will in the next 10 years -- a 20-percentage-point increase since 2004. These results indicate a sea change in public opinion.

        In another surprising finding, 40 percent of respondents say a presidential candidates position on global warming will be extremely important (16 percent) or very important (24 percent) in their decision about whom to vote for. With the presidential primaries and general election near, he said, candidates should recognize that global warming has become an important issue for the electorate.

       The survey also found that 85 percent support requiring automakers to increase the fuel efficiency of cars, trucks and SUVs to 35 miles per gallon, even if it meant a new car would cost up to $500 more. And 82 percent support a requirement that electric utilities produce at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, even if it cost the average household an extra $100 a year. Majorities of Americans, however, continue to oppose carbon taxes, in the form of gasoline (67 percent) or electricity taxes (71 percent), as a way to address global warming.

        In addition, 50 percent of respondents say they are personally worried15 percent say a great dealabout global warming. Many Americans, however, believe that global warming is a very serious threat to other species, people and places far away, said Leiserowitz, but not so serious of a threat to themselves, their own families or local communities. Nonetheless, they do strongly support a number of national and international policies to address this problem.

        The survey was conducted July 23 to 26, 2007, using telephone interviews with 1,011 adults, aged 18-plus. Respondents were drawn from Gallups household panel, which was originally recruited through random selection methods. The final sample was weighted to be representative of U.S. adults nationwide. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. Survey results are available online:

The Yale Project on Climate Change at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies supports public discourse and engagement with climate change solutions.

Gallup, Inc., headquartered in Washington, D.C., is one of the worlds leading research companies focusing on studying human nature and behavior. The Gallup Poll has been monitoring U.S. public opinion since 1935, and Gallup now tracks public opinion in over 100 countries worldwide on an ongoing basis.

The ClearVision Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to applying entertainment education as a social-change strategy to address climate change through U.S. commercial television.