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Americans Do Not Think Global Warming Is Real: Why?

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Scientists around the globe say that global warming is real but why are some Americans reluctant to believe this despite tantamount number of studies and evidence? A new assessment by Yale Project on Climate Change Communication reports that one in five Americans think global warming is not happening.

Researchers from Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies conducted a survey in March which reports nearly two-thirds or 63 percent of Americans think climate change is occurring. Around 52 percent think that if global warming is indeed happening, it is generally caused by humans.

However, 18 percent or one in five Americans think global warming is not happening. The most alarming part of the report says that only 11 percent of Americans are 'very worried' about climate change and its effects to the environment. 52 percent are just 'somewhat worried'.

Global warming was defined [pdf] in the poll as 'the idea that the world's average temperature has been increasing in the last 150 years, may be increasing more in the future, and that the world's climate may change as a result'. When asked if global warming is a threat to Americans, 63 percent said that it is a 'relatively distant threat' since the effects will most likely be felt by future generations to come. Only 49 percent think that climate change is affecting people in the United States right now.

"One reason these numbers have been stable in recent years may be because most Americans are not hearing or talking about this issue. Our survey finds, for example, that only 40% of the American public says they hear about global warming in the media at least once a month and only 19% hear about it at least once a week," the authors wrote in the report.

The report adds that only 12 percent of Americans hear other people talking about global warming issues at least once a month. Only 4 percent said they hear others talk about these issues at least once a week.

Global warming issues do not excite or threaten Americans. The survey found that only 11 percent of Americans are 'very' interested to hear about global warming while 25 percent say they are 'moderately' interested. However, 29 percent of the respondents report that they are just a 'little' interested and 24 percent are not interested at all.

"There's been a deluge of misinformation that confuses the issue in the mind of the public," Prof. Henry Pollack, emeritus professor of geophysics at the University of Michigan said. He added that misinformation can be tagged culprit in Americans not hearing about global warming issues frequently. 

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