American views on climate change and the pope

Taken just before the release of the pope’s encyclical on climate change, this Pew Research survey delves into the views of American Catholics on climate change and compares them to the American general public. It also looks at how Catholics and Americans see Pope Francis.


With the release of the Pope’s encyclical, the moral call to take action on climate change just got a lot louder. The views of Catholic Americans (and Americans in general) on the pope and climate change shed light on reactions we might see in the U.S.


Americans like the Pope. 86% of Catholics and 64% of non-Catholics view Pope Francis favorably. Catholics like Francis better than his predecessor, Pope Benedict, and nearly as much as Pope John Paul at the height of his popularity. This may mean that his message on global warming is more likely to be accepted. Still, 20% of Catholics say Francis is too liberal.

More Americans see global warming as a serious problem now than in 2013. 46% of Americans say it is a serious problem compared to 33% two years ago. The shift has mostly taken place among Democrats (48% to 67%), though there has also been a modest change in Republicans (14% to 21%). This represents a recovery from a serious decline in global warming concern that occurred in the U.S. in 2009.

The views of American Catholics on global warming are similar to the views of the general public. About 70% of Americans, Catholic or non-Catholic, say global warming is occurring, and about 45% say it is human caused.

Religion is not the key to views on climate change in the U.S. Demographics such as race/ethnicity and political party are more predictive of views on climate change than religion.

Hispanic Americans are more concerned than white Americans about global warming. More than 80% of Hispanic Americans think that global warming is happening and is a serious problem, while 60% think it is human caused. This represents a gap of about 20% over white Americans, who tend to be more skeptical of global warming.


image via (cc) Flickr Jeffrey Bruno

Date: 2015
Organization: Pew Research Center
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Other
Organization: Pew Research Center
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Other

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