Gallup Poll: Global Warming Concern at Three-Decade High in US

The recent polling data released by Gallup makes it clear that there are marked changes in public perception AND that our role as educators must be focused on helping people understand options and strategies for action and enabling people to develop the skills for collaborating with others to engage in bringing about change. Global Warming Concern at Three-Decade High in the U.S. includes the following findings:

  • Americans worrying a great deal up eight percentage points to 45%
  • New high of 62% says effects of global warming are happening now
  • Belief that global warming poses a serious threat stretches to 42%

Although Americans widely acknowledge global warming and humans' role in it, a key reason climate change ranked last in importance as a voting issue in 2016 may be that the public discounts the severity of the problem -- at least in the short term. Less than half (42%) believe global warming will pose a serious threat to themselves or their way of life in their lifetime. This percentage is the highest Gallup has recorded in over two decades but is essentially unchanged from 2016.

Bottom Line

U.S. public concern about global warming has ebbed and flowed over the past decade and a half but has generally been on an upswing since hitting a recent low point in 2011. Concern has increased each of the past two years, coinciding with an improved economy and back-to-back unseasonably warm winters.

Whatever the reason, the percentage of Americans worrying a great deal about global warming is at a record high, as is Americans' belief that its effects have already begun and that human activity is the major cause. Still, less than half worry greatly about global warming or believe it poses a serious threat to their lives.

A subsequent Gallup report will explore the 2017 findings and trends by subgroup to show whether the increased concern this year is shared broadly or confined to certain groups.