When it comes to climate change, Americans are increasingly pointing the finger at nature itself as the cause.
According to the results of new survey, there’s been a sizeable shift in just the last five years in the percentage of Americans who believe humans are the primary driver of climate change as opposed to natural changes in the environment.
Though three-quarters of Americans believe climate change is happening, only 49% say it’s mostly or entirely precipitated by human activity — an 11% drop since 2018.
Digging into the demographics, the falloff was most pronounced among Democrats and independents. In 2018, 72% of Democrats said climate change is mostly or entirely a result of human activities; in 2023, that figure fell to 60%. For independents, the decline was even steeper: from 61% in 2018 to 42% in 2023.
Creeping doubt about humans’ impact on climate could be affecting the choices people are making, or not making, to reduce their carbon footprint.
The survey showed 89% of Americans routinely turn off lights when not needed and 68% use energy efficient appliances. But far fewer people have taken more significant steps: Only 11% have lived in a home with solar panels, and just 12% have driven a hybrid or electric vehicle.
Other interesting results of the survey:
— Americans have mixed feelings about the high-voltage power lines needed to transport renewable energy: 56% support beefing up the nation’s power grid, but that number dips to 48% if the power lines would be built in their neighborhood.
— People who live in the Southwest and on the West Coast are more likely than other Americans to say they’d consider moving to avoid extreme weather impacts. People in the Northeast are standing pat.
The survey was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, with funding from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. Additional results are available online.