EYES WIDE OPEN

A record number of Americans are finally blaming humans for climate change

A record number of Americans are finally taking global warming seriously. Forty-one percent of Americans believe global warming poses a serious threat to them or their way of life, the highest amount since polling firm Gallup started asking this question in 1997.

Why the sudden acceleration in concern? Perhaps because the poll follows the warmest winter on record in the US. Temperatures in the US were about 5°F above the 20th-century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A record number of Americans (65%) Gallup polled blamed rising temperature over the last century on humans. The response was an increase of 10 percentage points in just a year, and is up 4 percentage points from 61% in 2007. Just 31% attributed global warming to natural causes, a record low in 15 years.

In the survey, 64% of Americans answered they were about global warming a “great deal” or a “fair amount.” Gallop notes it was the highest recorded level concern since 2008. While concerns about global warming has increased among all political parties since 2015, Democrats were far more likely to be concerned about global warming than Republicans and independents.

There was a slight increase in the number of Americans (59%) who believe the effects of global warming have already begun—up from 55% in 2015. Only 10% thought the effects will never happen—the lowest since 2007—and down from 16% last year. Last year was the hottest year on record, with 2016 expected to be at least as hot as 2015 or warmer.

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