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Sep 162011

From Green Right Now Reports

A Reuters poll released Thursday shows that the percentage of Americans who believe the planet is warming rose to 83 percent from 75 percent during the past year.

The Reuters/Ipso poll also reported that the change in thinking has been influenced by the Republican debates, in which several candidates have repeatedly scoffed at the idea that humans are creating a hotter climate. Front-runner Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, has said that scientists have manipulated data to raise alarm bells so they can make money off of climate science.

By bringing the topic to the forefront, the Republicans have caused people to reconsider what they think about global warming,   Stanford University political scientist Jon Krosnick told the news service, and more have concluded that they believe climate warming is real and caused by humans.

Natural disasters such as Hurricane Irene, that hit a large swath of the East Coast, and the drought and extreme heat plaguing Texas, Oklahoma and other Southern states, also have likely been a factor, according to the Reuter’s report.

The Texas drought has been the worst since record-keeping began 116 years ago. The Texas/Oklahoma heatwave broke records set during the Dust Bowl.

The poll found that a majority of people from both parties believe climate change is happening, including 72 percent of Republicans and 92 percent of Democrats.  The majority of these believers, 71 percent, believe human activities are mainly or partly to blame.

Fifteen percent of Americans reported that climate change is their key concern, which means the issue is certain to play a role in the upcoming 2012 elections, Krosnick said. If President Obama were to define himself as an environmentally minded president, it could help him win significant support from this segment of concerned Americans, Krosnick told Reuters. On the other hand, if the president keeps to middle ground, and the Republican candidate for president softens the anti-warming rhetoric, climate change could play less of a role, he said.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,134 adults, including 932 registered voters, had a margin of error of 3 percentage points for all respondents and 3.1 points for registered voters.