January 20, 2009
44% Say Global Warming Due To Planetary Trends, Not People Monday, January 19, 2009 

Al Gore’s side may be coming to power in Washington, but they appear to be losing the battle on the idea that humans are to blame for global warming.

Forty-four percent (44%) of U.S. voters now say long-term planetary trends are the cause of global warming, compared to 41% who blame it on human activity.

Seven percent (7%) attribute global warming to some other reason, and nine percent (9%) are unsure in a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democrats blame global warming on human activity, compared to 21% percent of Republicans. Two-thirds of GOP voters (67%) see long-term planetary trends as the cause versus 23% of Democrats. Voters not affiliated with either party by eight points put the blame on planetary trends.

In July 2006, 46% of voters said global warming is caused primarily by human activities, while 35% said it is due to long-term planetary trends.

In April of last year, 47% of Americans blamed human activity versus 34% who viewed long-term planetary trends as the culprit. But the numbers have been moving in the direction of planetary trends since then.

Gore and many scientists argue that the use of fossil fuels and aerosols, along with other human activity, is causing global warming. Other scientists disagree, saying the warming is a natural cyclical change that will reverse itself over time.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of voters now regard global warming as at least a somewhat serious problem, with 41% saying it is Very Serious. Fifteen percent (15%) say it is not at all a serious problem. These numbers are down slightly from last April.

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While 64% of Democrats say global warming is a Very Serious problem, just 18% of Republicans and 33% of unaffiliated voters agree. Twenty-seven percent (27%) of GOP voters say it’s no problem at all, a view shared by 19% of unaffiliateds and only four percent (4%) of Democrats.

Forty-three percent (43%) of female voters also rate global warming a Very Serious problem, compared to 38% of men. Twenty-three percent (23%) of male voters say it is not at all a problem, but only nine percent (9%) of women agree.

With Barack Obama and the new Congress focused heavily on economic recovery, it’s interesting to note that 46% of voters believe there is a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection. Thirty-two percent (32%) see no such conflict, however, and 22% are not sure.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of voters somewhat or strongly approve of Obama’s performance so far as president-elect while 33% disapprove, according to the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Approval Index.

Obama on Saturday in Philadelphia on the first stop of his ceremonial train trip to his inauguration reiterated his concern about “a planet that is warming from our unsustainable dependence on oil.” He has vowed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions through the development of alternative energy sources, and his nominee for secretary of Energy, Stephen Chu, is a strong supporter of climate change technologies. But Obama has rejected calls so far for a carbon-based tax on fossil fuels, which many global warming advocates champion.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of Republicans see a conflict between economic growth and protection of the environment, while 28% don’t. Democrats are more closely divided on the question. Unaffiliated voters by 16 points see such a conflict.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters say finding new sources of energy is more important than reducing the amount of energy Americans now consume. Thirty-eight percent (38%) say energy conservation is more important, and six percent (6%) are undecided.

Last August, when prices at the gas pump were soaring, 65% of Americans said finding new sources of energy is more important that reducing the amount of energy Americans now consume. Twenty-eight percent (28%) said reducing current usage is more important.

Male voters by two-to-one put the emphasis on finding new energy sources while women are much more narrowly divided. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of investors say new sources of energy are more important, compared to 54% of non-investors.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of Republicans favor finding new sources of energy, as do 50% of Democrats and 53% of unaffiliated voters.

One of those new sources of energy is the building of more nuclear power plants. For three decades, nuclear power plants have generally been unpopular and the target of environmental groups, but 55% of voters now say more nuclear power plants should be built in the United States. Just 29% oppose new plants, with 15% undecided.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of GOP voters favor building new nuclear plants, with 22% opposed. The numbers are nearly identical for unaffiliated voters. Among Democrats, though, just 42% support the building of new plants, and 39% are against it.

Investors certainly like the idea of new plants, too. Sixty-three percent (63%) want to see new nuclear plans built, compared to 43% of non-investors.

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Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.