11/09/05 FOX News Poll: Global Warming

Most Americans believe global warming exists and a majority thinks it is a major problem — if not a crisis, according to a recent FOX News poll. Even so, less than half think they personally can do anything about the problem.

The new national poll finds that 77 percent of Americans believe global warming is happening and, of those, more than twice as many think it is caused by human behavior (46 percent) than by normal climate patterns (17 percent). About a third says it is a combination of both (30 percent).

• Watch the FOX News Channel special, "The Heat Is On: The Case of Global Warming," Sunday, November 13 at 8 p.m. ET

All in all, Americans take the issue of global warming seriously. A 60 percent majority describes the situation as either a crisis (16 percent) or a major problem (44 percent), while about one in five say it is a minor problem (22 percent) and one in ten "not a problem at all" (12 percent).

"Despite the skepticism that has been expressed by some business, scientific and political leaders, the existence and importance of global warming seems to be the consensus position of Americans," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "This lopsided acceptance of the problem is something we don’t see for many other issues."

Majorities believe recent summers have been hotter and winters have been warmer compared to when they were growing up. And most people (75 percent) think they understand the issue of global warming: 27 percent say they understand it "very" well and another 48 percent "somewhat" well.

Still, less than half of Americans (45 percent) think there is anything they can do to stop global warming.

When read a list of possible ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the most popular actions people say they are likely to take include buying more energy-efficient appliances and getting educated about global warming. Fully 80 percent of Americans say they are likely to buy more energy-efficient appliances and 73 percent say they are likely to make a point to learn more about global warming.

Even if it costs a bit more, two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) say they are likely to replace their regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (39 percent "very" and 28 percent "somewhat" likely). Six in 10 are likely to cut down on driving or carpool more often (35 percent "very" and 26 percent "somewhat" likely).

The least likely action was buying a hybrid electric car, but these results should still be heartening to those concerned about global warming (and to manufacturers of hybrid cars). Even if it were to cost a few thousand dollars more, almost half of Americans (45 percent) say they are likely to buy a hybrid car, including 23 percent that say they are very likely to do so.

Views are mixed on how much the country is doing to reduce global warming: 34 percent think the United States is doing more than other industrially developed countries, but a slim 38 percent plurality thinks the country is doing less. Few think the United States is doing "the same" (7 percent) as other countries and about one in five is unsure (19 percent).

Although there is widespread support for giving tax incentives to businesses that develop ways to improve the environment, the public does not put the responsibility for protecting the environment on manufacturers.

Almost equal numbers of Americans think citizens themselves (20 percent) should be responsible for protecting the nation’s environment as think the government should be primarily responsible (19 percent). Less than one in ten (8 percent) think it is mostly the responsibility of manufacturers. Half of respondents give the unprompted response "all" should be responsible.

There is sizable support for giving tax incentives to businesses that develop ways to improve the environment, as 72 percent of Americans say they favor such incentives — more than three times as many as oppose them (20 percent).

Partisan differences are clear on the issue of global warming. Democrats are significantly more likely than Republicans to think global warming exists (83 percent vs. 66 percent), and more than three times as likely to call the situation a crisis (22 percent vs. 6 percent). Conversely, Republicans are almost twice as likely as Democrats to think the United States is doing more than other countries to reduce global warming (48 percent vs. 25 percent).

One thing both parties mostly agree on is using tax incentives to encourage businesses to be more eco-friendly, as 70 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans favor the idea.

Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on October 25-26.

• PDF: Click here for full poll results.