Survey: Two-Fifths of Americans View Dangers of Climate Change as Exaggerated

Concerns about global warming are exaggerated, 41 percent of Americans believe.

That's the highest amount of skepticism ever recorded by Gallup's annual Environment Survey, which has been going steadily since 2001.

Fifty-seven percent said the seriousness of climate change as portrayed in the news media was correct or underestimated, a record low.

The two figures each tend to bounce around within a 10-point range, and the previous level of skepticism was recorded in 2004, when 38 percent thought global warming hype was overblown and 58 percent thought news coverage was either fair or not worrisome enough.

The opposite trend was visible in 2001 and 2006, when 30 percent of respondents were skeptical and 66 percent either satisfied or even more worried.

Reponses broke down predictably this year according to political orientation.  Sixty-six percent of self-identified Republicans thought publicized warnings about climate change were exaggerated, as did 44 percent of independents and 22 percent of Democrats.

Age patterns were more complicated.  Thirty-one percent of people aged 18 to 29 were skeptical, the same as last year, while 47 percent of those 65 and earlier were -- but a year ago, only 33 percent of the over-65 cohort felt the same way.

The two cohorts in the middle, 30-49 and 50-64 years of age, also saw their levels of skepticism rise several percentage points.

Only 38 percent of respondents felt that climate change posed "a serious threat" to themselves within their own lifetimes, down from 40 percent in 2008.

The survey polled 1,012 adults via telephone from March 5-8.

Click here to read more about the Gallup survey.