Alarm over climate change in US doubles in five years: Poll

NEW YORK: The proportion of Americans found to be "alarmed" by climate change has doubled in five years, the pollsters behind a survey revealed on Tuesday.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents to the poll conducted last December by Yale and George Mason universities were in the alarmed category - an all-time high - and twice the percentage of those surveyed in 2013.

"It is an incredibly important shift in the political climate of climate change," said Dr Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Programme on Climate Change Communication.

More than 1,100 adults across the US were asked about their belief, attitude and behaviour towards climate change.

The answers were then used to classify respondents into six groups - from dismissive (least worried about climate change) to alarmed ( most worried).

Those dismissive of climate change represented 9 per cent of respondents, a drop of five points compared to 2013.

The findings come amid a growing polarisation of the political debate over the issue of global warming in the US.

The decision by US President Donald Trump to pull out of the Paris climate deal has fired up his base, while opponents have championed a Green New Deal that seeks to virtually eliminate US greenhouse gas emissions within a decade.

The 2015 Paris accord, agreed to by nearly 200 nations, seeks to wean the global economy off fossil fuels in the second half of this century.

The increased visibility of global warming debates could explain Americans' rising concern, said Professor Kenneth Sherrill, a political science professor emeritus at Hunter College in New York City.

Also, research showed that growing exposure to bouts of extreme weather may change minds, he added. - REUTERS