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Most Americans Believe Global Warming is a Threat

A Majority Supports Government Mandates to Reduce Global Warming

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Most Americans (85 percent) believe global warming is happening now, more than half (60 percent) perceive global warming as a great threat to themselves, and even more (88 percent) believe global warming threatens future generations, according to a TIME magazine/ABC News/Stanford University poll.

Changing Weather Changes Minds
Changing climate conditions and weather patterns seem to be partly responsible for the increased awareness of global warming as a serious problem. A majority of Americans say weather patterns worldwide have become more unstable in the past three years, and 56 percent believe average global temperatures have increased. Their perception of weather changes globally has been reinforced by their experience locally. More than half say climate and weather changes are also occurring in the county where they live.

The Politics of Global Warming
Politically, the poll is not good news for President Bush and the GOP-led Congress. According to the poll, as reported in TIME magazine, two-thirds of Americans think President Bush’s policies “did little or nothing to help the environment in the past year,” while 68 percent believe the government should do more to address global warming.

Americans Urge Government Action on Global Warming
A majority of Americans (62 percent) believe quite a lot can be done to reduce global warming, and most in that group (52 percent) favor government mandates. That includes a mandate to lower power plant emissions (61 percent) and tax breaks for those who develop renewable energy sources such as wind, water and solar power (87 percent). But a majority of Americans oppose higher taxes on electricity (81 percent), higher gasoline taxes (68 percent), and tax breaks for companies that build nuclear power plants (56 percent).

Another interesting note on the political side is the change of view about global warming that has occurred along party lines over the past eight years. More Democrats and independents today see global warming as a problem—46 percent and 45 percent, respectively, up from 39 percent and 31 percent in 1998. Among Republicans, things have shifted the other direction. In 1998, 31 percent of Republicans believed global warming was happening. Today, only 26 percent of Republicans see global warming as a problem.

A Plan for Action
Americans have specific ideas about what should be done to address global warming and who is responsible.

Three-quarters of those polled say they want President Bush, Congress, American businesses and the American public to take action on environmental issues in the coming year. And they’re not letting themselves off the hook, either. Nearly half (49%) say global warming is "extremely important" or "very important" to them personally, compared to only 31 percent in 1998, and 35 percent of Americans say that in the past year they have thought a great deal about their personal impact on the environment.

According to TIME magazine, the poll was conducted March 9-14, 2006. A random sample of 1,002 U.S. adults nationwide were surveyed by telephone. The poll has a three-point margin of error.

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