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Pew Survey: ‘Climate skeptics aren’t generally more science illiterate than everyone else’


These were all findings of the Pew Research Center’s 1,100-person poll of Americans on their feelings not just about climate change but on the whole bundle of climate and energy issues. The poll’s headline number is that 48 percent of Americans correctly understand the Earth to be warming due to human activity. This number has recovered to 2006 levels, when it stood at 50 percent. It fell below 40 percent following the election of Barack Obama.

The report also confirms that Republicans and Democrats—especially on the parties’ respective right and left wings—hold differing views on climate change. But it finds that, especially on the left, these views are modestly moderated by someone’s understanding of general science. In other words, a Democrat with a high amount of science knowledge (including on health and biological concepts) is more likely to correctly state that humans are causing climate change than a Democrat with low science knowledge. Whereas being highly educated or having a high amount of science knowledge doesn’t make Republicans any more likely to say the same.

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