On the issue of climate change, 85 percent of respondents said that global warming ''has probably been happening,'' but only 38 percent are ''extremely or very sure about it.'' When asked how important the issue of global warming is to them personally, 49 percent said ''extremely'' or ''very,'' 32 percent said ''somewhat,'' and 18 percent responded ''not too'' or ''not at all.''
A majority of respondents said the government should require auto manufacturers to build more fuel-efficient cars (45 percent) or encourage them with tax incentives (40 percent). Sixty-one percent said that government should require power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while 21 percent favored industry tax incentives.
Pessimism about the health of the natural environment is strongly related to beliefs about global warming, the survey found. Among the 69 percent of Americans who are at least somewhat sure that global warming has been happening and believe that it will have at least somewhat serious effects if unchecked, 70 percent are pessimistic about the environment in general. Among the 31 percent of Americans who are skeptical about the existence or damaging effects of global warming, only 37 percent are environmental pessimists.
''This survey is modeled after the national surveys measuring Americans' perceptions of the national economy, which yield the well-known national economic indicators,'' said Krosnick,
Contact: Kathy Neal