Seven in 10 Americans say that the world’s climate is undergoing a change leading to more extreme weather patterns and sea level rise, but there is some debate about the cause, a new poll reveals.
That includes 41 percent who say climate change a very serious problem, according to a Monmouth University Poll. Another 19 percent say it is a somewhat serious problem, while 22 percent say they do not believe climate change is happening; and 8 percent are unsure.
There is a significant partisan divide in this view. A majority of Democrats (63 percent) and a plurality of independents (42 percent) see climate change as a very serious issue, while just 18 percent of Republicans agree. On the flip side, a plurality of Republicans (43 percent) believe climate change is not happening at all, compared with just 17 percent of independents and 10% of Democrats who feel the same.
“The data exposes the extent to which this has become a partisan political issue in the U.S. rather than a scientific issue,” Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute Director Tony MacDonald, who served as a co-organizer of the Dec. 4 Oceans Day at COP21, said in a statement. “The compelling science of climate change led to the historic agreement in Paris and the commitment of all nations participating to work together to stem the rise of global warming, increase the use of renewable energy, and increase financing for mitigation and adaptation actions.”
While most Americans say that climate change is happening, the public is divided on the major factor behind it. A third (34 percent) say that both human activity and natural changes in the environment are equally responsible, while just over a quarter (27 percent) put most of the blame on human activity and 8 percent put most of the blame on natural changes.