Republicans Get More Worried About Global Warming

blue marble arctic
The 'blue marble' of earth gets a makeover in this view of the arctic as seen by the Suomi NPP satellite. Image released June 18, 2012. (Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Suomi NPP.)

Republicans have become more concerned about climate change in the past couple of years, according to a new Gallup Poll.

Self-identified Republicans are less likely than Democrats to say global warming concerns them, but while Democrats' global warming anxiety has remained relatively steady, Republicans' worry is climbing. In 2011, just 30 percent of Republicans said they worried a "great deal" or "fair amount" about climate change. This year, that number reached 40 percent.

The poll queried a random sample of 1,022 adults, weighted to match national demographics. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The new numbers show Republican concerns reaching levels that haven't been seen since since 2009, when 35 percent said they worried about global warming. Three-quarters of Democrats currently say they worry about global warming a great deal or fair amount. [8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the World]

Republicans have also become more likely to say that global warming's effects have already been felt, the poll found. In 2011, only 32 percent of Republicans said climate change effects were already happening, a number which rose to 39 percent in 2013.

More than half (52 percent) of Republicans now agree that most scientists think global warming is occurring, up from a low of 37 percent in 2011. But there's a big party split in opinions on causes: 78 percent of Democrats blame human activities compared with only 39 percent of Republicans. Half of Democrats think global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetimes, compared with just 18 percent of Republicans. (Independents tend to fall between Democrats and Republicans on all of the poll questions.)

High-profile cases like the "Climategate" scandal involving leaked emails between climate scientists may have contributed to Republican skepticism over the past few years, Gallup reported. Now that those news stories have faded, climate-change belief is recovering.

The findings track with a recent poll analysis released by Gallup that found, overall, more Americans are worrying about climate change than in the past. That polling found that 58 percent of Americans worry a great deal or fair amount about climate change, up from 51 percent in 2011.

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Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.