Climate Change Belief Research - great cause for concern


March 25, 2009

Just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities

Just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities

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

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

I enjoy this publication. I have never felt the need to post a comment before. I felt it was necessary to register today, just to post that I think this article is the most ignorant and condescending that I have ever read here. To state that our education system must be terrible because only 51% of those surveyed got this right, is not only completely idiotic, in it's logical leap, it is factually in error. There is no "consensus" on AGW. I am not an idiot, and nether are the many accomplished scientists that oppose the current popular theory. To claim that there is a right answer that our education system should make readily apparent, calls people like Richard Lindzen, and numerous others, incompetent.

Climate change is a very complex issue, with a wide variety of opinions. Don't show your political bent by denigrating many scientists, and intelligent individuals who you happen to disagree with.


Why is this debate about beliefs, AGW is either true or not, and science not belief will be the judge in the end. What the American public believes is irrelevant, and should not sway public policy, they still believe in magic. Scale is an attribute that is routinely ignored in all these debates, ie. nothing we can do voluntarily will make one iota of difference in the outcome of AGW (if in fact it is real) in any reasonable time frame. The solution will come by some accident of human ingenuity from some completely unexpected tangent. The future has never been a linear projection of the past, it is logarithmic and chaotic. Impoverishing millions for a belief seems the heights of arrogance. Alfred


I believe that climate change is a natually ocuring event, though there is no doubt Human activity plays a role. How much though is a hard thing to assess.

John M

Like all businesses, Enviromedia will survive only as long as customers value their services and brand. But the GW buzz has cooled along with the weather. Pragmatic greenwashers need to be looking for the next crisis theme to make them stand out. From Enviromedia's site:

"Welcome to a radically different kind of advertising and P.R. agency. One built on the passionate belief that doing the right thing isn’t just the right thing, but a powerful business advantage...

...We do it through an integrated package of in-house services including research, branding, creative campaign development, corporate public affairs, media relations, community outreach, experiential marketing, Web design/programming and media planning and buying."

Todd Dunning

There is always argumentative refuge for those for whom human-made climate changes means an affront on their way of life. It's the quintessential wicked problem - neither side of the argument will ever be able to construct an argument complete enough to convince everyone - it's far too complex an issue. When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object you have to reconsider your assumptions. Time to abandon science as the means to proof something needs to be done. Objectivity? bah! Can you prove it? Good luck trying!

Check out for an excellent interactive map of arguments for and against the concept of human-made climate change.


I think Gizmag can say what it wants AelHues. It doesn't claim to be objective, it's new media, not the Wall Street Journal. For what it's worth I think you're an idiot also - just my opinion.

"What the American public believes is irrelevant, and should not sway public policy" Alfred, oh dear! No one put you in charge!.

They work for us - that's democracy for better or worse.

"AGW is either true or not" hmmm qualify that statement if you can.

John, no one is arguing naturally occurring climate variations but I agree it is hard to asses how big a part humans play - doesn't mean that we have to sit around waiting for someone to prove that humans caused any of it for us to choose better ways of doing things. Who's permission are we waiting for again?

Simply put, if you care about the environment you live in, if your at all thankful for your existence and you have an inkling that humankind isn't the only thing that matters on this planet - find out how you can repay the gift that is everything it gave to make you who you are.

Human accelerated climate change doesn't need to exist for you to do that.


I've enjoyed this site for the last couple years. I have never posted before. I HAD to post in response to this article. I know GizMag does not claim to be a reputable news source. That being said, those naive enough to read this work as fact should at least get the chance of researching the bigger picture. The author proves he/she has little to no understanding of global climate patterns over time when he states: "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." This infers those not believing humans are the main cause or a significant contributer to climate change are either uneducated, or unenlightened.

Had the author done his homework, he\'d see there are countless arguments presenting both sides, and both backed by thousands of man hours of climatologist's work. One of the only known facts of the biggest causes of global warming is there is not enough evidence to make a valid assumption.

The Earth\'s climate is cyclical and it IS known that it\'s reached MUCH cooler average temperatures and MUCH higher average temperatures for periods of thousands and even MILLIONS of years.

The earth is thought to be 4,550,000,000 (4.5 billion) years old. We have only started collecting "reliable" global climate data over the past 30 years with the help of weather satellites and thousands of ground monitoring stations. Even so, our current data sets are incomplete. 1/30th of 4.55 billion isn't quite a large enough data set to make any valid conclusions.

It is certainly true the average temperatures of many measuring points have increased over the past decade around the globe. It's also true many average temperatures have dropped (though not as many). Whether or not this fluctuation is natural, or man made is hugely debatable. How much effect mankind's pollution has on the Earth\'s climate is also debatable (from negligible to significant). The more we learn about the how the Earth works its "magic," the more we realize we don't know.

That being said, I am an advocate of the environment and do not believe in unnecessary waste or consumption. I'd simply like to point out this article is severely flawed in jumping to conclusions based on popular theory alone.


Sorry guys, but all of that have posted here have missed the point of this article entirely. There's no possible way that gizmag or its writing staff could possibly be so ignorantly one-sided on this very controversial subject to have written this article for the soul purpose of making an intelligent point, because no thinking person could be.

No, what it comes down to is blatant self-promotion. They know that if they write something so ridiculously out of touch with reality that they'll incite enough fury to cause regularly clear-minded thinkers to "lose it" and actually sign up, write in and say something intelligent to counteract the stupidity (thanks to those that shared some intelligence in this respect, from both sides of the argument - especially the last comment I read by not_biased). It's pure grassroots marketing, and nothing more.

Even the sensational graphic that shows a poor defenseless polar bear shrinking to a mere 3-percent of its "existence" is propaganda at its best - clearly this team of instigators went to the same propaganda school as those that did the trailer for Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", which shows an atomic bomb exploding in the background to clearly make a point about... what exactly? Oh yes, fear-based marketing.

Of course, while such marketing tricks work over the short term, in this case driving up email contacts so that gizmag can hopefully profile us properly in the future and eventually sell our opt-in information to third-parties, they lose credibility as a source for unbiased news coverage (or even one with thought provoking biases), and eventually we'll stop coming.

Even worse, when it comes time to profile us for really useful information that their marketers can compile and resell, we won't trust their corporate judgment enough to share our personal details. No gizmag, you've lost this time around. While you've stirred up the pot enough to cause some significant feedback, it appears that your intelligent reader base that comes here to learn about interesting gadgets and receive well rounded coverage on issues that matter, are not impressed with such shoddy journalism.


'Got it right'? Who says so?

The question was, 'which of the following describes your thoughts?', so, if everyone gave a truthful answer, everyone 'got it right'!

The only question/statement asked or given, with a definably 'correct' answer was:

"Climate change needs to be proven scientifically either way."

Let's face it......if the reporter can decide that some people 'got it right', why bother with a survey in the first place?

Adding a completely irrelevant comment, I was taught never to use 'got', or 'get' in place of a descriptive there!


Just for the record, Gizmag will never sell information about our readers. Carry on, and lets keep it above the belt.


I agree that this article was a surprising blow to Gizmag's normal quality. I did not expect to see such juvenile fluff here on this otherwise excellent blog.

Towards editorial impartiality, I suggest running a GW article with a graphic of a hippie sitting on the columns, with his credibility shrinking down to 3% over the last few years.

Todd Dunning

Arrogant, uninformed, propaganda. Thanks ecogizmo, now I know not to read your articles.


There has been SCIENTIFIC consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming for the at least last decade, if not 30 years. G. H. Bush signed onto the U.N. Framework Convention of Climate Change in 1992. The opposing views have stemmed from three renowned scientists at the George C. Marshall Institute. Robert Jastrow, William Nierenberg, and Frederick Seitz wrote many letters and op-ed pieces to papers and politicians across the nation claiming the AGW is not real, the research was tampered with, or there were dissenting views. From there, people took the well laid foundation and used this to further political and economic goals. for the full story please watch this video by PhD Naomi Oreskes


The tone of the article implies that people who do not believe in climate change are ill-educated and that climate change is a certainty.

In fact, the media were calling it "global warming" for years, until recently it was discovered that the US and the UK were having the coldest winters we'd seen in decades so they changed the goal posts and called it "climate change".

"Climate change" is being pushed by the "secret government". It's a great business idea. They want to bring in a carbon tax and articles like this, which are based on poor evidence are helping them to brain wash the population. Good job..... Well done!!!

You might start by doing some proper research into who's running the show and why they're pushing these things.

Whilst you will probably take offense at being criticised - we all do after all, I would suggest you do some real research and educate yourself about who's behind the Government before continuing to spread further propaganda.

Have a look at this; a petition of 30,000 scientists who reject that climate change is happening...

That's THIRTY THOUSAND scientists. (remember the old saying "if ten doctors ten you you're ill you better lie down"...?)

Maybe you should put that on your website.

Furthermore I suggest you find out about who's behind a this lot.

I would appreciate your comments.




"There has been SCIENTIFIC consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming for the at least last decade, if not 30 years. "

Oh yeah? Read articles from the seventies (TIME magazine for example) and the scientist were sure that we are heading for a new ice age.


By the way, it's not "global warming" anymore, it's "climate change" (man made, of course - how arrogant except if it makes you feel good to belong to a large group, kind of like the Church in the Middle Ages. History just goes round and round like a snake with its tail in its mouth and you kids are here to prove it!


Well, for the I mean, the site does not present itself as a professional website. I could recreate that in a matter of hours and I have very little web page design experience. Also, I could have signed on as one of the 30000 scientists. All, I would have had to have done is check a box and sign a name. Whether it was my name or not, no one would know. Also, I Googled at least 20 different names from the scrolling list and the only results I got for these -scientists and PhDs- were hits with the same petition list. One of them had even died in 1940. Surely, at least one of these, since almost 30% are supposedly PhDs, would have a web page, or some mention of themselves on the internet somewhere. Also, this site references Frederick Seitz, who I mentioned previously, and, if you watched the movie I posted, is mentioned a lot. As for the movie you posted, Frederick Seitz was the president of the Rockefeller University for 10 years (1968-1978). Small world.

Basically, Seitz believes we are still in the Cold War fighting against communism. He sees global warming as a way the government seeks to increase control and an advancement of communism.

I realize this is a big step to take, but I do not have all of the facts and histories to relate on command. If you watch the video by Naomi Oreskes: you will see she sites a lot of -credible- sources. And everything fits together pretty succinctly.


In response to Devon...

If you look at the way the US is being run and some of the ideas that the new God-like president is proposing, such as the Obama youth camps -bill HR1388- which has been passed by the first house maybe we are going to be fighting communism.

Furthermore the credibility of the petition project is not an issue, it has had a lot of coverage by the BBC here in the UK.

And as I said before they've stopped calling it global warming since discovering things are getting colder, that's why they now call it climate change.

They'll be bringing in a carbon tax before you know it, one of the main steps towards a one world government.

Ever noticed how they put it all on the little man instead of penalising the big corporations???

Blindly saving the world from the comfort of your own light switch....


Devon, we can trade facts and figures back and forth all day regarding the likelihood of GW being caused by man. We would all agree that there are convincing arguments to be had on both sides.

Each side concludes that the other are unhinged loonies bereft of reason. This is of course the impasse we are at today.

The luxury the "Nonbelievers" have is that time and events are on our side. We are most happy to sit back with some popcorn over the next few years.

Todd Dunning


Facebook User

whether global warming(climate change) or not , we should keep on developing green technologies. and climate change is not the only thing we should be worried about. we need to stop polluting the enviroment, and the only way to do that is green technologies.

this is just my opinion on the enviroment.

i dont really care if the climate change was caused by human activities or is naturally occuring, either way we need to develop technologies to keep our earth clean.

bio-power jeff

Jeff, of course you are right. Both sides have always agreed on pollution, etc. For those of us born in the sixties, the planet is dramatically cleaner. Smog in particular is a fraction of what it used to be. We are getting there.

The green movement, however, has set back that progress for us all. By manufacturing the Global Warming crisis they discredited not only themselves but environmentalism in general. Today anything I read from an environmentalist is highly suspect, knowing the huge array of financial and political enticements behind their agenda.

Todd Dunning

Funny how so many conservative Republicans, who claim to represent the party of \"personal responsibility,\" are so unwilling to take any responsibility for man\'s impact on the environment. Their blatant attempts at evading and avoiding responsibility are shameful, embarrassing, and reckless.


OLDALCHEMIST: the referenced survey is an obvious fraud. typical i gotcha, not unlike some of my grad students thot i would permit. i am much too old to type a complete response, however......jim jones, god of cyanide laced koolaide and fat albert of tobacco, slavery and politico fortunes have both demonstrated human fatuousness: we human can lever the earth off axis, or pray for rain. every belief system held dearly by humankind when \"kind\" is fine until as the maya, use your cabeza for a basketball, or as my friends in borneo wanted to eat my heart for my strength and my brains for my knowledge, i convinced of their collective fallacy with a greater god, usarmy issue 45cal bullets. these primitive people were dismayed when i did not eat their leaders. but my squad had k and c rations. its 65 years later and i\'m told by responsible researchers the locals still hold to old customs. as a physical chemist i think i can design alloy for lever bar to move the earth, but shuttle development lags. those survey numbers are a disgrace but once again pit groups, sexes, races, against and by jiggers pappy we kin likum. the tradegey of this exposure eradicates what little trust the unwashed massses have in we scientists. yes we must clean up our atmosphere, but not at the expense of a useless experiment. good luck with the snacks, no matter the looser.


Oh k,, it has finally occurred to me what the greater picture in this scenario will be. And it was because of the lack of finishing the story on Global Warming that kept me from seeing it. All along I have been quite aware that we may face another Mini Ice Age as occurred approx: 12,800 years ago, But, not until now have the dots become connected, I can be a bit slow at times but, will admit it when I see where I went wrong. The Global Warming Theory if let to run it\'s course may be the fore runner of the new Mini Ice Age. Once the fresh water has managed to stop the North Atlantic conveyor belt.

I quote \"Around 12,800 years ago the northern hemisphere was hit by a mini ice-age, known by scientists as the Younger Dryas, and nicknamed the "Big Freeze", which lasted around 1300 years. Geological evidence shows that the Big Freeze was brought about by a sudden influx of freshwater, when the glacial Lake Agassiz in North America burst its banks and poured into the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. This vast pulse, a greater volume than all of North America's Great Lakes combined, diluted the North Atlantic conveyor belt and brought it to a halt.\"

Now my request is that the Global Warming fans rethink what will happen if the Global Warming does continue.


My opinion of Gizmag has been dented by this article. There is so much ignorance about this subject, and so much money at stake that you cannot trust what anyone says about it. I do trust the BBC who recently did a feature as part of the Horizon series on \"Global Dimming\" where the point made was that physical pollution by particles in the atmosphere has caused a drop in temperatures and thus far has saved us from global warming from the greenhouse gas effect. It is a very interesting article, and the fact that it has not been reported on by mainstream media, and by media such as Gizmag, tells me that we are VERY BADLY SERVED by our media. Fact is that that we have too many people on earth, and population growth is out of control. It is inevitable that the human species will wipe itself out because it cannot control its rate of reproduction.


The current Global cold snap is just another in a string actual facts regarding our climate. What has never been proven as a fact is that warming or cooling is man made. What is far more likely is that the temperature of the earth is maintained by solar activity, not man\'s activity. Should we practice common sense conservation and eliminate polution, yes, absolutely. Should we ascribe to the wild ramblings of politicians an others without facts, absolutely not. V

Vaughan Pederson

I hated to see that last comment go unanswered...

AelHues, I am merely copying & pasting an excerpt from the above article in answer to your question. Maybe you should re-read it.

\"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.)\"

The fact that humans have impacted global warming has been empirically-proven. This is not a matter of \"belief.\" What I fond most interesting about this article is its supposition that, despite what people believe about global warming, most recycle anyway. Peer-pressure and how people are perceived makes the biggest impact on human behavior. Apparently, may people who don\'t \'believe\' global warming to be influenced by humans still recycle and buy recycled products for money. Why? Either because they don\'t want others to think they are part of the problem, even though they disagree OR they really know humans have influenced it but don\'t feel they can make the changes in their lives to afford that reality, i.e., using fuel-efficient vehicles, invest in green technology or change professions.

Or maybe its just too hard for some people to admit that their lifestyle for the last 30 years has destroyed the planet for their children and childrens\' children. Its a tough one.

Summary: If you aren\'t part of the solution you are part of the problem. Its not a matter of belief but fact. If a scientist claims global warming isn\'t influenced by human interaction, follow the paper-trail. I betcha you\'ll find a conflict of interest of the person signing said scientists\' checks.

Eönwë Gilthoniel

The greatest danger in climate change isn\'t an Ice Age. The greatest danger is its effect on Ocean Chemistry. Elevated surface temperatures effects how CO2 enters into solution. Elevated CO2 has caused CO2 to enter solution as carbonic acid. The increased acidity has caused a decline in phytoplankton growth. Every year new dead zones appear around the world caused by oxygen depletion. I would like to share my interest as one of the principals of Royal Wind have designed an Ocean Temperature Regulatory System using our revolutionary turbines to power cold water pumps. Our system is designed to pump large amounts of cold water to the surface of the ocean to create cold water thermoclines. We are participants in the Virgin Earth challenge. We believe that widespread use of our system worldwide would result in a much desired global temperature regulation and reduction. The health of our oceans and the increased carbon sequestration are linked to global sustainability. We feel that without intervention the oceans are in danger of collapse. The health of our oceans is crucial to the maintenance of oxygen levels in the atmosphere. If the oceans die, we will struggle to survive. It's all connected: ocean health, carbon sequestration, and global temperatures. Here's the plan:

To install our ocean-current powered cold water pumps in strategic locations worldwide, creating cold water thermoclines, increasing the sequestration of anthropogenic carbon dioxide. Our system will also be used to build the polar icecap back to a more acceptable year-round base level which will also ensure the continued function of the thermohaline and of the North Atlantic drift. Our system will also be used to create cold water barriers to hurricanes. We can solve the Earth\'s problems with the right effort. We must if we plan to continue living on this Earth. You can find us at Royal Wind on Google


The name calling is becoming tiring but what is left? Since there is not certainty that there is man caused global warming those who wish it to be publish falsehoods about those of us who are not willing to trash our society because those persons tell us to. Another fact that has not viewed itself much yet is that in a free society it is up to the individual to make changes to their life in relation to carbon productive activities. It is not a matter to be mandated by those few we elect to office as public servants. I think that this issue could be used to divide the populace of our country and then we Americans can all donate to purchase one way tickets to Europe for those in the second group.


Eönwë Gilthoniel;....What "solution" to climate change have you found ? Explain . Your nuts if You think any meaningful changes will or CAN be made. All the oil will be burned in the next 100 years. PERIOD. You cant stop it. Thing that pisses people off are the folks that say if You just buy a hybrid, or don't use plastic bags and vote for greenies we can turn this climate thing around. BS, Its too late. So who's using all that energy ?....Look in the mirror.

Brian Mcc
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