Voters Take Global Warming A Bit Less Seriously

Voters continue to show less worry about global warming.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 54% of voters still believe global warming is a serious problem, but that’s down eight points from a year ago. The new numbers includes 29% who consider it very serious, a number, too, that has been inching down in recent months.

But 43% now say global warming is not serious, including 21% who say it is not at all serious. The number who say global warming is not serious at all is at its highest level measured in regular tracking in over a year. The overall number of voters who question the seriousness of global warming crossed into the 40s for the first time in January.

Forty-eight percent (48%) of voters say global warming is caused by long-term planetary trends, while only 33% blame human activity. These results are identical to those found last month.

Belief that human activity is the primary cause of global warming has declined significantly. In April 2008, the numbers were nearly the mirror image of the current findings. At that time, 47% blamed human activity, while only 34% named long-term planetary trends as the reason for climate change.

Many voters also continue to believe their president has different views on the topic than they do. Most (55%) say President Obama believes global warming is caused by human activity, while only 15% think the president blames long-term planetary trends.

The decline in voter concern comes despite the failed UN effort in December to produce an international treaty aimed at limiting the human activity that Obama and others consider the primary cause of global warming. At that time, most Americans (52%) said there continues to be significant disagreement within the scientific community over global warming.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) also said it’s at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming.

That helps explain why Americans remain evenly divided over how urgent it is to deal with global warming: 43% say we must take immediate action to stop it, but another 43% say we should wait a few years to see if global warming is real before making major changes.

Seventy-one percent (71%) of Americans say stimulating the economy to create more jobs is a bigger priority for U.S. leaders than stopping global warming to protect the environment.

The plurality of voters (47%) says there is a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection, a number that has held fairly consistent over the past several months. Just 30% do not see this conflict, while 23% are not sure.

When it comes to U.S. efforts to help the environment, just 29% of voters now believe reducing the amount of energy Americans consume is more important than developing new energy sources. Most voters (63%) continue to see finding new energy sources as the more important goal.

The number of voters who think reducing energy consumption is the higher priority ties the lowest level measured in over one year. The number who put new energy sources first ties results found in January.

Women are more likely than men to place more importance on reducing energy consumption. While those over the age of 30 place much higher importance on finding new energy sources, voters under 30 are evenly divided on the question.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) continue to see renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power as a better long-term investment than fossil fuels. Thirty percent (30%) say investing in fossil fuels is the better plan.

Most Americans see a need for major lifestyle cutbacks to help the environment, but even more don’t think that’s likely to happen.

Voters support offshore oil drilling more than ever, and most don’t agree with the president’s decision to limit where that drilling can be done.

Despite major announcements in recent days from both Ford and Nissan about stepped-up development of electric cars, just 17% of Americans say it is at least somewhat likely that the next car they buy will be all-electric.

Separate polling finds that 44% of Americans believe solar energy should become a standard method of heating homes in the United States.