New Yale Study Finds Public Still Deeply Misinformed About Climate Change Risks

Image from


A Yale Study on public perceptions of climate change risk reveals that much of the American public is deeply misinformed about climate change. Researchers with the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication organized their study results into a series of interactive maps that allow viewers to display national polling results by state, congressional district, or county. The study results included the following findings:

  • Only 48 percent of the public agreed that global warming is caused mostly by human activities.
  • Even fewer, only 41 percent, agreed that most scientists think global warming is happening.
  • 48 percent were not worried about global warming.
  • Whereas 42 percent agreed that global warming is already harming people in the U.S., only 34 percent agreed that “global warming will harm me personally” (greatly or moderately).
  • 51 percent agreed global warming will harm people in the US during the next 10 years.
  • 35 percent doubted that global warming will harm people in developing countries.

If only forty-eight percent of Americans believe that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, current educational efforts need to be greatly intensified.   Furthermore, even though many Americans have already been affected by climate change, the fact that only thirty-four percent believe global warming will harm them personally in the future also indicates profound and widespread misunderstanding about climate change

The good news is, seventy-seven percent of Americans agree that government should be funding research on renewable energy, and seventy-four percent agree that the government should regulate CO2 as a pollutant.  Thus, while many Americans remain ignorant about the causes of global warming and the severity of its impacts, they nonetheless support some policy measures that will help mitigate climate change.  Unfortunately, only forty-four percent of Americans favor a revenue-neutral (fully refunded) carbon tax, suggesting that while they support a shift to clean energy, they are unwilling to support any new taxes, even if rebated, that would accelerate the clean energy shift.


Yale Climate Opinion Maps