March 25, 2009 It just goes to show you what a bad state the education system is in when just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities. Opinion Research Corporation surveyed 1,000 people in late January and found that 29% believe climate change is occurring naturally, 15% believe climate change needs to be proven scientifically either way and 3% believe climate change doesn’t exist. Oh, and for the record, of those who got it right, 55% were male, which means ... we're no longer sure whether to be more concerned about global warming or global ignorance.

The survey was commissioned by Enviromedia and conducted between January 23 - 26, 2009 by telephone in a random digit-dial sample, with a +/- 3.2 percent margin of error. The survey question: “Which one of the following describes your thoughts about climate change, or global warming?” Answers read: “Climate change doesn’t exist,” “Climate change is caused by human activities,” “Climate change is occurring naturally,” or “Climate change needs to be proven scientifically either way.”

Of the people surveyed:

  • 51% believe climate change is caused by human activities
  • 29% believe climate change is occurring naturally
  • 15% believe climate change needs to be proven scientifically either way
  • 3% believe climate change doesn’t exist

Among Americans who say that climate change is caused by human activity, the profile breakdown is 45 percent female and 55 percent male.

Other findings include

  • More (64 percent) 18- to 34-year-olds believe humans cause climate change than any other age group.
  • Americans who believe climate change is caused by human activity are almost twice as likely to buy more green products in this economy than Americans who believe it occurs naturally.
  • According to a separate question in the same telephone survey, four out of five (82%) people say they are still buying green products and services today—which sometimes cost more—even in the midst of a U.S. Recession.
  • Those who believe climate change is caused by human activity are more likely to have attended college; believe that green transportation or electricity from renewable resources is most beneficial for the environment (rather than recycling or minimal/reduced packaging); and be influenced more in their green purchasing decisions by third-party certifications than word of mouth or manufacturer labels.
  • Fifty-five percent of people with at least some college education believe climate change is caused by human activities. (Significantly more than those without college.)
  • More than half (56%) of the people who believe that electricity from renewable resources is the most beneficial thing for the environment believe climate change is caused by human activities. (Significantly more than those who selected recycling or minimal or reduced packaging.)
  • Americans who believe climate change is caused by human activity are almost twice as likely to buy more green products in this economy than Americans who believe it occurs naturally.
  • Of those who don’t buy green products, 40 percent believe climate change is occurring naturally. (Significantly more than those that will buy more green or the same despite the economy.)
  • Americans who say climate change needs to be proven scientifically are still recycling and using green cleaning and personal care products.

A powerpoint presentation on the survey results can be downloaded here.

(Image courtesy of enviromedia)

Mike Hanlon