Skepticism over global warming on rise, poll suggests

By Dina Cappiello
Associated Press / October 23, 2009

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WASHINGTON - The number of Americans who believe there is solid evidence that the earth is warming is at its lowest point in three years, and the number who see the situation as a serious problem has also declined, according to a survey released yesterday.

And the share of people who believe pollution caused by humans is causing temperatures to rise has also taken a dip, even as the United States and world forums gear up for possible action against climate change.

In the poll of 1,500 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, the number of people saying there is strong scientific evidence that the earth has gotten warmer over the past few decades is down to 57 percent from 71 percent in April of last year.

Only 36 percent of poll respondents said they believe that human activities - such as pollution from power plants, factories, and automobiles - are behind a temperature increase. That’s down from 47 percent from 2006 through last year’s poll.

“The priority that people give to pollution and environmental concerns and a whole host of other issues is down because of the economy and because of the focus on other things,’’ suggested Andrew Kohut, director of the research center, which conducted the poll from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.