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A poll of American public opinion on climate change finds that individuals point to their personal experience with unusual weather patterns as the reason they acknowledge that climate change is occurring.
Conducted in fall 2011, the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change (NSAPOCC) is a joint initiative of the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College. The findings suggest that indicators of climate change that can be personally observed are more powerful influencers of public opinion than computer modeling and scientific reports.
- There has been a "modest rebound" in the percentage of Americans (62%) who agree that global temperatures are on the rise (highest since 2009).
- Partisanship continues to influence Americans' views on global warming (much more so than other demographics like gender, race or education levels).
- Americans point to personal observations of warmer temperatures and changing weather as the main reasons why they believe climate change is occurring. In the south for example, drought conditions influenced public opinion on climate change.
- Other factors that are influencing acknowledgement of climate change include retreating glaciers and impact on polar bears. Computer modeling and IPCC reports have less effect on public opinion.
- Americans who do not acknowledge that global warming is occurring tend to believe that scientists and the media are distorting and overstating evidence for their own interest.