To what extent are Americans engaged in the issue of global warming?

The American public believes that it has become more knowledgeable over the years about this issue.  In 1997, 42 percent said that they knew a moderate amount or a lot about the topic, compared to an all-time high of 72 percent in 2018, as shown below.



Question wording: “How much do you feel you know about global warming – a lot, a moderate amount, a little, or nothing?”


For just about every policy issue, a small group of people consider it to be of great personal importance. This group of people iscalled the “issue public” on the issue. (1)  These are the people who are passionate about it, follow it closely, and actively seek out information on the issue. More importantly, the issue public is especially likely to cast votes based on theissue (a more detailed discussion can be found on the Voter Behavior page).

The size of the issue public on global warming is estimated by the percentage of the American public who say the issue is extremely important to them personally.

Over the years, the size of the global warming issue public has been variable, although for most years it hovered around 15% of the American adult population. In 2018, an all-time high of 20% of the public were members of the global warming issue public (shown below).



Question wording: “How important is the issue of global warming to you personally – extremely important, very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important?”

Another way to assess a person’s level of engagement with an issue is to measure his or her strength of opinion on the issue.

As the graph below indicates, there had been slight variation in the percentage of Americans who have very or extremely strong opinions on global warming from 2010 to 2018. In 2010, 41% of respondents reported having very or extremely strong opinions on global warming, while 54% of respondents, an all-time high, in 2018 reported having such strong opinions. 



Question wording: “How strong are your opinions on the issue of global warming – extremely strong, very strong, somewhat strong, not too strong, or not strong at all?”


(1) Krosnick, Jon A. “Government policy and citizen passion: A study of issue publics in contemporary America.” Political Behavior 12.1 (1990): 59-92.