Here’s What Happens When You Ask Americans if Global Warming is Real

Part of Gallup’s Climate Change series, Gallup conducted a recent poll on Americans’ attitudes towards global warming and found three categories of attitudes: Concerned Believers, Cool Skeptics and the Mixed Middle.

Understanding attitudes is important because there’s strength in numbers. While the good news is that more Americans believe in global warming, more Americans also don’t believe in global warming. The ones who aren’t sure are the most vulnerable. While we stay divided, then we’ll have to leave solving global warming to our leaders because we can’t do it without a unified front.

Who Are These People?

  • Concerned Believers: They consider that global warming is a result of man-made actions, and they are concerned. And 60 percent of Concerned Believers are made up of women. Concerned Believers tend to be younger than 50-years-old, and they tend to lean Democrat.
  • Cool Skeptics: They are not very worried, if at all, about global warming. Men make up 66 percent of the Cool Skeptic category. Cool Skeptics are usually over 50-years-old and they self-identify as Republican.
  • Mixed Middle: They are torn in their beliefs and in their concern; they believe a combination of Concerned Believer and Cool Skeptics beliefs. While there is a mixture of men and women, there are more women in this cluster. While education isn’t a distinctive feature among the other groups, most of the respondents in the Mixed Middle group don’t have strong educational backgrounds.

There Are More Believers and More Skeptics

While the good news is that close to 40 percent of the respondents fall into the Concerned Believers cluster, 1 in 4 are still Cool Skeptics. The Mixed Middle group ranked smack in the middle with 36 percent of the vote.

According to Gallup, compared to previous polls from 2001, while the Cool Skeptics’ numbers have grown since 2001, the Mixed Middle’s numbers have taken a nosedive; the Mixed Middle used to hold the majority.

While it can be argued that most Americans are taking a stand, why are the Cool Skeptics’ numbers getting hotter?

What to Believe?

Needless to say, Concerned Believers and Cool Skeptics have polar opposite mentalities. The differences behind a great or fair amount of worry versus a little or not at all worry are fascinating:

  • While Concerned Believers have faith in the alarming media reports, Cool Skeptics’ scrutinizing eye perceives them to be exaggerated.
  • While all of Concerned Believers believe that global warming is a result of human pollution, all of the Cool Skeptics believe that the earth’s increased temperature is a result of “natural changes in the environment.”
  • While two-thirds of Concerned Believers felt that they would feel a direct change(s) in their lifestyles, none of the Cool Skeptics felt that global warming would affect their lifestyles.
  • Mixed Middle individuals agree with both. For example, while some might believe that global warming is real, they don’t believe that they will feel the impacts.

Does it Even Matter?

Other data (e.g., Yale University’s research) aligns with Gallup’s research for the most part; more Americans believe that global warming is real, but there are also plenty of skeptics.

Mother Jones describes that more Americans have become “hardened,” or steadfast, in their position, except one. The most susceptible group to change positions is the Mixed Middle group because they just don’t know where they stand. They also don’t know all of the facts. As reported in Mother Jones:

Those are the people who aren’t paying attention, and don’t know much about the issue. So they’re the most open-minded, and the most swayable based on recent events.

Some climate analysts believe that what we believe doesn’t matter much. One claims that the majority isn’t going to care until it’s fight-or-flight crisis mode, and it’ll probably be too late by then. Solving problems like global warming will require “enlightened leadership” to lead the way. While they claim that our leaders are already leading the way, examples like our leaders’ handling of the Keystone XL pipeline make you question how enlightened some leaders really are.

Global Warming Isnt a Game

Your opinion does matter. Do you want to rely on a stranger — and their intellect, level of enlightenment, susceptibility to persuasion or ability not to cave to corporate lobbyists — to solve global warming for you?

Strength in numbers makes leadership listen, so the Mixed Middle group needs some help. Unfortunately, they can’t solely rely on popular media to make an informed decision. For example, in a roundabout way, NBC recently tried to pinpoint a cold weekend to disprove global warming. Yet, one event or trend, isn’t enough to prove or disprove anything.

Care2 members, get and stay informed always because everyone has an agenda to push, and global warming isn’t always a top priority.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Theresa Robinson
Theresa Robinson3 years ago

T Y.

Warren Webber
Warren Webber3 years ago

Live long and prosper!

Paul Meyer
Paul Meyer3 years ago

Dan, are the Antarctic ice sheet, Greenland ice cap, and the one in the Arctic Ocean, sundry glaciers all over the world all "Only one ice cap..."? The general trend of tornadoes has been increasing in frequency in the last 20 yrs or so. Droughts are increasing, according to meteorological data. This is available on the internet if you bother to look at reputable sites based on science. You seem to be making up merde toreau off the top of your head, maybe as a dupe for the Koch bros. running on macho? You seem to be a repub. This class of political believers seems big on reciting words that seem reasonable, logical, and plausible, but have no basis in reality, and only exist to serve the economic interests of whomever is duping you. Or maybe you're heavily invested in the energy companies? Demos are not always innocent from making up bs, but repubs seem more prolific, authoritarian, and mean spirited in the way they go about this. Anyway, your motivation for spewing made up "facts" is neither here nor there, but does need to be outed so others aren't fooled.

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

Some people get hung up on the words, "Global Warming".

Now we need a new word or words for it.

Face it, something is happening and it doesn't appear to be good.

Michael T.
Michael T3 years ago

No, see, you are a little troll who willfully misinterprets science, data and information.

I simply call you out for it.

Had you ever been honest in any discussion about climate change we might be having an actual discussion, but since you have lied and then run away when people called you out for your lying


and again,

and again,

few of us have any interest in treating you as anything other than the miserable lying troll you are pretending to be as qualified to know anything about science.

Shoo fly.

Go away

before you get swatted at again for the umpteenth time.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner3 years ago

What if you made an opinion pool on whether there was fuel in your car when the tanks on empty or whether the scissors you stick in your eye will have an effect? That's the same insanity as conducting "polls" on whether pumping 20 billion tons of CO2 beyond what the earth's natural systems can absorb into the upper atmosphere every year. The excess CO2 is a physical fact and what CO2 does in the atmosphere is a physical fact, opinions or "polls" on that are useless and should be banned.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams3 years ago

Quantum mechanics is the random number generator of the giant computer of the universe. There is much that we do not know and can never know. Weather is chaotic and climate is weather on scales of decades, centuries, and millennia. There is such a thing as a rational bet. With the land along the Atlantic coast of the United States sinking, it will be necessary to build huge dikes to keep the sea out, or move buildings up on the high pilings to get them up above the water, or move buildings onto large barges to moor them over the land on which they were built when it floods, or move several miles inland to higher ground. Desalinating seawater and piping it inland can help some to fight drought at great expense. Growing more heat tolerant varieties can help cope with summer heat waves. Capturing CO2 and using it either to feed it to algae and make algal bio-fuels of the algae or as fracking/hydraulic/heat-transfer fluid in enhanced geothermal systems to replace coal for generating electricity would help some to mitigate global warming.

Brett Byers
Brett Byers3 years ago

Stop 1000 tons of CO2 emissions by saving acres of rainforest for the cost of a cup of coffee:

William Meade
William Meade3 years ago

There is a good quote out there
"does not matter what you think
you will make make more betting
on it been real "