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Americans' Denial of Climate Change Hits Record Low, Survey Finds

It remains unclear how changing views will influence policy

Only 16% of Americans believe there is not enough evidence to prove global climate change is real, the lowest percentage since a survey began asking the question in 2008.

The study, which reports the result of a survey of more than 900 Americans from the National Surveys on Energy and Environment, shows that 70% of U.S. residents believe evidence supporting global warming. That’s a 7 percentage point increase over the spring of 2015 and a 10 percentage point increase from last fall.

“This is not a trivial jump,” said report author Barry Rabe, a professor at the University of Michigan. “When you see a shift like this in a relatively short period of time, that’s significant.”

The research shows Americans’ views on climate change have varied with the weather. In years with extreme weather, respondents were more likely to say they believed in climate change. In the first decade of the 21st century, global warming experienced a hiatus during which temperatures rose more slowly than they had in previous years. But recent studies have shown the end of that trend as temperatures continue on an upward trajectory. Record high temperatures in the first half of 2015, along with extreme climate events like the California drought, help explain the sudden surge in climate change belief from spring to fall, Rabe said.

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