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Worldwide, Blame for Climate Change Falls on Humans

Worldwide, Blame for Climate Change Falls on Humans

by Julie Ray and Anita Pugliese

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- World residents are more likely to blame human activities than nature for the rise in temperatures associated with climate change. Thirty-five percent of adults in 111 countries in 2010 say global warming results from human activities, while less than half as many (14%) blame nature. Thirteen percent fault both.


People nearly everywhere, including majorities in developed Asia and Latin America, are more likely to attribute global warming to human activities rather than natural causes. The U.S. is the exception, with nearly half (47%) -- and the largest percentage in the world -- attributing global warming to natural causes.

Americans are also among the least likely to link global warming to human causes, setting them apart from the rest of the developed world. Americans' attitudes in 2010 mark a sharp departure from 2007 and 2008, when they were more likely to blame human causes.

The world has not reached consensus as to whether it acknowledges at least some human contribution to climate change. Nearly half of adults worldwide (48%) say climate change results from human activities or volunteer that both natural and human activities cause climate change. In Europe and the United States, belief in human contribution to global warming has declined since 2007 and 2008.

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People nearly everywhere are more likely to believe humans cause global warming. In the United States, where residents are less likely to blame humans for global warming and to see it as a threat, residents could potentially feel less empowered to act as stewards of the environment in the future.

See full results on page 2.

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Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face and telephone interviews conducted in 2010 with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, in 111 countries. For results based on the total sample in each country, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±1.7 percentage points to ±5.7 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.


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