Poll: Americans Are Not Too Worried About Climate Change, Still Favor Solar, Wind, and Nuclear

A Gallup poll completed last month found that only 32% of adults in the U.S. worry a “great deal” about global warming or climate change, while 45% worry “only a little” or “not at all.”

The survey was taken via telephone interviews conducted during the first week of March using a random sample of 1,025 people. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points. Questions asked in the survey focused on the environment, including energy preferences.

Solar and wind power found a great deal of support among the population sampled, with 79% of respondents suggesting that more emphasis should be given to producing domestic energy from solar power and 70% feeling that wind should get more emphasis.

Although the favorability of nuclear power has been declining steadily since it peaked at 62% in 2010—before the Fukushima disaster—a slight majority (51%) still favors the fuel as an energy source.

Other somewhat surprising results included a decline in the popularity of natural gas as an energy source. Only 55% of respondents felt more emphasis should be given to producing domestic energy from natural gas, down from 65% of respondents in the 2013 survey. Coal received the least support of the options given as energy sources, with 43% saying that less emphasis should be placed on the fuel.

When it came to the most worrisome environmental concern, water pollution was at the top of the list. Of those surveyed, 79% worried at least a “fair amount” about polluted rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, while 77% worried similarly about polluted drinking water. The results for water have been fairly consistent since 2010.

The public perception on global warming and climate change actually seems to be trending toward less concern rather than more. Gallup results from 1989 indicated that 12% of the population was “not at all” worried about what was then termed the “greenhouse effect” in Gallup’s polling question.

This year, 24%—twice as many U.S. adults—expressed that they were “not at all” worried about “global warming or climate change,” as the question now asks. When the wording was changed in 2010, the percentage of respondents who were “not at all” worried was 29%, so it has decreased from that peak, but it has remained essentially constant during the past four years.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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