As the world gets ready to start burning more natural gas in the coming months, a new survey shows that the industry has a long way to go to convince the public that climate change is real and that the problem is urgent.
The survey by the Pew Research Center finds that just 27 percent of Americans are aware that the world’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, the main gases in the atmosphere, have been responsible for the warming we see.
A little more than a third of Americans (32 percent) say they believe the problem has gotten worse.
That is an improvement from the 2011 poll when only 24 percent of respondents said they believed that.
But that doesn’t mean Americans are ready to stop believing in climate change, and Pew found that even among Republicans, the share of respondents who believe climate change exists has remained relatively stable at 32 percent.
The biggest decline was among those who are religiously unaffiliated, where only 16 percent said they were familiar with the idea.
The Pew survey was conducted from December 4-10, 2016, among 1,004 adults aged 18 and older.
The results were based on interviews with a random sample of 1,000 U.S. adults, including 611 who self-identified as Democrats or independents.
Among other things, the survey asked respondents about their beliefs about global warming, whether they believed it was caused by humans, whether it is happening now, whether climate change should be a priority, whether the federal government should be able to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and how important the issue is to them personally.
Among those who say they think climate change has worsened, it is clear that they are less supportive of a global warming solution than those who don’t think the problem exists.
More than half of Democrats (55 percent) and nearly half of Republicans (46 percent) think climate is a real threat.
Among Democrats, only about one in five (19 percent) are in favor of the federal efforts to combat climate change.
And in the wake of the Paris Agreement that aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, about three in 10 Democrats say they agree with the notion that climate is changing and that humans have a role to play.
But there is some overlap in views on the issue among partisans.
About six in 10 Republicans and Republicans-leaning independents agree that the issue of climate change isn’t a big deal, while more than half the Democrats and independents agree.
And while more Democrats than Republicans say they have a lot of confidence in the federal response to climate change (71 percent versus 61 percent), there is a substantial partisan divide in whether they have confidence in that response.
About two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners say the federal responses to climate are effective, while roughly two-quarters of Democrats and Democratic leaners disagree.
And there are also stark differences in how people feel about the role that the federal governments role should play.
While a majority of Republicans think the federal Government should be the primary way to address the problem of climate, about six in ten Democrats and Republican leaning independents think that the Federal Government should not be able do so.
And when it comes to the role of the private sector, Democrats are less likely than Republicans to think it should be in the mix.
And Republicans and Democratic leaning independents are more likely than Democrats and GOP leaning independents to say that the private market is a better way to solve the problem.