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Democrats and Republicans increasingly divided over global warming
Date:4/19/2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. Despite the growing scientific consensus that global warming is real, Americans have become increasingly polarized on the environmental problem, according to a first-of-its-kind study led by a Michigan State University researcher.

The gap between Democrats and Republicans who believe global warming is happening increased 30 percent between 2001 and 2010 a "depressing" trend that's essentially keeping meaningful national energy policies from being considered, argues sociologist Aaron M. McCright.

"Instead of a public debate about different policies to deal with global warming, a significant percentage of the American public is still debating the science," said McCright, MSU associate professor and primary investigator on the study. "As a result, we're failing to significantly address one of the most serious problems of our time."

The study is featured in the spring issue of the research journal Sociological Quarterly, online now.

McCright and Riley E. Dunlap of Oklahoma State University analyzed 10 years of data from Gallup's environmental poll, making the study the first of its kind to use multiple years of data. The Gallup poll, conducted annually, consists of a nationally representative telephone survey of at least 1,000 people.

According to the MSU-led study, people on the right of the political spectrum increasingly deny the existence of global warming, while people on the left generally believe in global warming more now than they did 10 years ago. Among other things, the study found:

  • Of those who identify as Republicans, about 49 percent said in the 2001 Gallup survey that they believe the effects of global warming have already begun a number that dropped to 29 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, the percentage of Democrats who believe global warming has already begun increased from about 60 in 2001 to 70 in 2010. All told, the gap between these "believers" in the two
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Contact: Andy Henion
henion@msu.edu
517-355-3294
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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