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Beliefs on Climate Change and Severe Weather

The September 2017 AP-NORC Poll of 1,150 adults explores the public’s beliefs about climate change and trends in weather-related disasters.

Seven in 10 Americans say weather-related disasters are becoming more severe, and nearly half of them say this is because of climate change, according to a new survey by The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Overall, 71 percent of Americans say climate change is happening, while just 12 percent say it is not and 17 percent are not sure. Among those who say climate change is happening or aren’t sure, 45 percent say it is caused mostly or entirely by human activities, while just 16 percent say it is mostly or entirely the result of natural changes in the environment. Thirty-eight percent think it’s an equal mix of both factors.

Among those who say climate change is happening or aren’t sure, 82 percent say it is something the United States government should be addressing, regardless of its cause.

More than half of Americans say climate change is very or extremely important to them. At the same time, two-thirds disapprove of how President Trump is handling the issue. Democrats (79 percent) are more likely than independents (50 percent) or Republicans (27 percent) to say climate change is very or extremely important to them.

The nationwide poll was conducted September 28-October 2, 2017 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,150 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.