Abstract

Over the past 20 years, there have been dozens of news organization, academic, and nonpartisan public opinion surveys on global warming, yet there exists no authoritative summary of their collective findings. In this article, we provide a systematic review of trends in public opinion about global warming. We sifted through hundreds of polling questions culled from more than 70 surveys administered over the past 20 years. In compiling the available trends, we summarize public opinion across several key dimensions including (a) public awareness of the issue of global warming; (b) public understanding of the causes of global warming and the specifics of the policy debate; (c) public perceptions of the certainty of the science and the level of agreement among experts; (d) public concern about the impacts of global warming; (e) public support for policy action in light of potential economic costs; and (f) public support for the Kyoto climate treaty.

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