According to Krosnick, this explanation is especially significant, because it suggests that the recent decline in the proportion of people who believe in global warming is likely to be temporary. "If the Earth's temperature begins to rise again, these individuals may reverse course and rejoin the large majority who still think warming is real," he said.
Several questions in the June survey addressed the so-called "climategate" controversy, which made headlines in late 2009 and early 2010.
"Growing public skepticism has, in recent months, been attributed to news reports about e-mail messages hacked from the computer system at the University of East Anglia in Britain characterized as showing climate scientists colluding to silence unconvinced colleagues and by the discoveries of alleged flaws in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC)," Krosnick said. "Our survey discredited this claim in multiple ways. "
For example, only 9 percent of respondents said they knew about the East Anglia e-mail messages and believed they indicate that climate scientists should not be trusted, and only 13 percent said the same about the controversial IPPC reports.
"Overall, we found no decline in Americans' trust in environmental scientists," Krosnick said. "Fully 71 percent of respondents said they trust scientists a moderate amount, a lot or completely."
In the June 2010 survey, 86 percent of respondents said they wanted the federal government to limit the amount of air pollution that businesses emit, and 76 percent favored government limitations on greenhouse gas emissions generated by businesses. Only 14 p
|Contact: Mark Shwartz|