"The percentage of Americans who think climate change is occurring has rebounded ... and is at its highest level since 2006," according to a new poll conducted by researchers at Duke University. "Whether in response to extreme weather events like mega-storm Sandy or the improved economy, public opinion has clearly rebounded from its low point of a couple years ago," said researcher Frederick Mayer.
Asked "Is the earth's climate changing?" 49.9% of respondents said, "Yes, I'm convinced," and 33.5% said, "Probably yes, but I'd like more evidence," while only 8.5% said, "Probably no, but more evidence could convince me," and only 7.6% said, "No, there isn't any solid evidence." Acceptance of climate change was correlated with political affiliation: 70% of Democrats were convinced, as opposed to only 27% of Republicans and 48% of independents.
Respondents who agreed that the climate is changing were asked, "Is climate change primarily because of human activity or natural causes?" Human activity was the choice of 64.4%; natural causes was the choice of 34.8%. They were also asked, "How serious a threat is climate change?" Very serious was the choice of 37.7%; somewhat serious was the choice of 45.9%; not that much of a threat was the choice of 14.8%; not a threat at all was the choice of 1.1%.
All respondents were also asked, "How much do you trust scientists to provide impartial and accurate findings on climate change?" A great deal was the choice of 20.2%; a fair amount was the choice of 42.9%; just some was the choice of 24.7%; very little was the choice of 11.9%. Trust in scientists was also correlated with political affiliation: 79% of Democrats trusted scientists a great deal or a fair amount, as opposed to 49% of Republicans and 59% of independents.
According to a Duke University press release issued on February 7, 2013, "[t]he Internet survey was conducted Jan. 16-22, 2013[,] by Duke in partnership with KnowledgePanel and involved e-mails to randomly selected households throughout the United States. The margin of error for 1,089 respondents was 3 percentage points. Funding for the survey came from Duke's Climate Policy Working Group."