WASHINGTON — Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that climate change is real -- the highest level in two years -- as the public trusted its own observations of rising temperatures, a poll said Tuesday.
The growing acceptance of global warming comes despite fierce political division over the issue in the world's largest economy, with proposals to mandate cuts on carbon emissions failing in Congress.
Sixty-two percent of Americans agree that there is solid evidence that the Earth's average temperature has been getting warmer over the past four decades, according to the survey by the University of Michigan's Gerald Ford School of Public Policy and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.
Twenty-six percent said they did not believe there was evidence of global warming, while the remaining 12 percent said they were unsure, the poll said.
In the survey, almost half of Americans who accepted global warming said that they were primarily convinced by personal observations of warmer temperature or weather changes.
Nine of the 10 warmest years in history have taken place since 2000, according to US space agency NASA.
Last year broke records for severe weather in the United States, with extreme events such as tornadoes and tropical storms causing more than $55 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The poll showed a sharp gap depending on ideology, with 78 percent of supporters of President Barack Obama's Democratic Party saying there is solid evidence of climate change compared with 47 percent of supporters of the rival Republican Party saying so.
Some leading Republicans including candidates seeking to replace Obama doubt that human activity is causing climate change, with some lawmakers arguing that environmentalists want to hurt business interests.
The survey had found that 65 percent believed in climate change in fall 2009, with the figure slipping to 52 percent the following spring amid staunch opposition in the Senate to a proposal on fighting climate change.
The latest survey took opinions by telephone of 887 US residents in December, with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
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