Poll: Global Warming Worries Grow

global warming, Clouds of smoke billow from a metal alloy factory, thermometer AP / CBS

Americans view global warming as a serious — and growing — problem, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll.

Half want it to be a high priority for government leaders and say the government can do a lot to improve the environment. Still, the poll suggests the environment is not likely to be a major issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Nearly half of Americans believe global warming is having a serious impact now — up 14 points since 2001. Another third think the impact of global warming will be felt some time in the future. Few think it won't have a serious impact.

Three-quarters think the weather in the past few years has been stranger than usual, with global warming cited as the biggest cause.

IS GLOBAL WARMING HAVING AN IMPACT?

Now
Yes, now
49%
Will in the future
36%
Won't have an impact
11%

6/2001
Yes, now
35%
Will in the future
41%
Won't have an impact
17%

Both Democrats and Republicans agree that global warming is a serious problem, but Democrats are far more inclined to say it should a high priority for government.

Those who do not think global warming is having a serious impact or don't think it needs to addressed are more likely to be Republicans.

Click here for complete results of this poll.
In general, Democrats are given a big edge over Republicans on environmental issues. They're seen as the party best able to protect the environment (57-14 percent); make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil (50-24 percent); and provide the country with enough sources of energy (45-30 percent).

SHOULD GLOBAL WARMING BE A PRIORITY FOR GOVERNMENT LEADERS?

High priority
52%
Serious problem but not high priority
37%
Not serious
8%

Just 33 percent approve of President Bush's handling of the environment, down from 43 percent in 2001. Only 27 percent approve of his handling of the energy situation, also down from 2001.

Still, for many Americans, the environment may not be a major issue in the 2008 campaign. Fifty-one percent they could still vote for a candidate who did not share their environmental views.

Respondents were asked about two policy measures aimed at reducing energy consumption and combat global warming. Requiring automakers to build more energy-efficient automobiles was extremely popular — favored by 92 percent of Americans. Increasing gasoline taxes was far less popular, favored by 38 percent and opposed by 58 percent.

Among other findings in the poll:

  • Most Americans would like to see the government develop new energy sources, but a majority (57 percent) oppose opening up Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling.

  • Three-quarters of Americans say they'd be willing to pay more for energy if it was generated by renewable sources such as solar or wind power.

  • Sixty-eight percent would consider buying a hybrid car.

  • Slightly more Americans approve of building more nuclear power plants than disapprove, but only a third would favor building a nuclear plant in their own community.

    For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.


    This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1052 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone April 20-24, 2007. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.
    • Joel Roberts

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