07/13/2006 - Americans generally agree that the earth is getting warmer, but there is less consensus about the cause of global warming or what should be done about it. Roughly four-in-ten (41%) believe human activity such as burning fossil fuels is causing global warming, but just as many say either that warming has been caused by natural patterns in the earth's environment (21%), or that there is no solid evidence of global warming (20%).
The public also is divided over the gravity of the problem. While 41% say global warming is a very serious problem, 33% see it as somewhat serious and roughly a quarter (24%) think it is either not too serious or not a problem at all. Consequently, the issue ranks as a relatively low public priority, well behind education, the economy, and the war in Iraq.
The divided public attitudes toward global warming - and modest expressions of concern over the issue - distinguishes the United States from other industrialized countries. Last month's Pew Global Attitudes Project survey showed that only 19% of Americans expressed a great deal of personal concern about global warming. Among 15 countries surveyed, only the Chinese expressed a comparably low level of concern (20%).
Read the complete poll results The Heat Over Global Warming on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.