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By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Ahead of the start of the United Nation’s Climate Summit next week, a new poll shows that while 91 percent of Americans believe in climate change, those who believe that climate change is responsible for sea level rise around the globe is only 75 percent. Only nine percent of those interviewed believed climate change is not real.

Sea level rise damages Assateague Island, MD road, Miami Beach, Miami, Florida, News
Sea level rise damages Assateague Island, MD road, photo by NPS Climate Change Response/Creative Commons License.

According to the poll taken by CBS News last week, almost two-thirds of Americans believe climate change is either a crisis (28 percent) or a serious problem (36 percent), and the majority wants immediate action to address global heating and its disastrous consequences. The poll shows that only twenty percent say it is a minor problem, while sixteen percent dismiss it.

“Protecting the environment has been near the middle of the public’s priorities in [Pew] Center surveys over the past decade, while dealing with climate change has been lower on the list. But the shares of Americans who consider each to be a top priority have grown considerably since 2011,” says Cary Funk, director of science and society research at Pew Research Center.

Most Americans, however, agree that they have experienced some extreme weather events in recent years. More than half say they have experienced unusual high temperatures (62 percent), and nearly half have experienced flooding (45 percent) or droughts (41 percent).

Fifty-seven percent of those interviewed fear that the consequences of climate change will be worse for next generation.

The CBS poll is in line with a survey conducted earlier this year by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, Climate Change in the American Mind. According to the Yale survey, 69 percent of Americans surveyed think global warming is real, with 46 percent of those ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ sure it is occurring.

American protests against Trump's climate policies, Miami Beach, Miami, Florida, News
American protests against Trump’s climate policies, photo by Edward Kimmel/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Although there is a consensus among scientists who study climate changes that global warming is predominately due to human activity, only 44 percent of Americans surveyed saw actions by humans as a major factor contributing to climate change. More than a quarter said our impact was minor or nonexistent.

The April 2019 Yale survey showed that an even higher percentage (55 percent) of Americans believe that global warming and climate change is a consequence of human actions, and not due to natural causes.

The responses as to how climate change affects the environment vary, depending on political beliefs, shows the survey. While those declaring to be Democrats think climate change contributes a lot to sea level rise, warmer-than-usual summers, devastating forest fires and droughts, Republicans are more likely to say it only contributes only slightly or not at all to these events.

As for what the federal government is doing about climate change, a survey released last Thursday (September 12th) by the AP-NORC (National Opinion Research Center) at the University of Chicago, shows that Americans are not very happy with the Trump Administration’s handling of climate change.

According to the survey, 64 percent of Americans say they disapprove of Trump’s policies towards mitigating the consequences of climate change and global warming.

“They [Republicans] don’t see it as a priority at all,” Ricky Kendrick, who lives in Grand Junction, Colorado, told AP news. “There are some [weather] things happening that I’ve never seen before. … Something’s changing.”

Kendrick was alarmed at Trump’s departure from the Paris climate accord and wants the U.S. to reduce offshore drilling, end subsidies for fossil fuels and ramp up those for renewable energy.

He told surveyors he is contemplating leaving the Republican Party, partly over its denial of climate change.

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