WASHINGTON, March 27 (Xinhua) -- The share of the U.S. population concerned about climate change has reached a new high of 50 percent, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.
The number is up slightly from 47 percent in 2016 but a whopping 13 percentage points above the 37 percent recorded only two years ago, Gallup found.
There has long been a disconnect between the high proportions of Americans who believe global warming is real and even ascribe it to human activity, and the low priority Americans give to global warming as a policy issue and a factor in how they vote, Gallup said.
This is largely explained by the relatively low percentages of Americans who consider global warming a serious threat in their lifetimes or who say they worry a great deal about it, Gallup said.
That may be changing, however, as 50 percent of Americans now take all aspects of global warming seriously -- classifying them as what Gallup calls "Concerned Believers."
That contrasts with most years from 2001 through 2016, when Gallup found the majority qualifying as "Mixed Middle" or "Cool Skeptics" on the issue.
A number of factors may influence Americans' attitudes about global warming, including the prominence of various pro-and anti-global-warming arguments, the sitting president's stance on the issue, the perceived reliability of climate science data, the state of the economy and unseasonably high or low temperatures leading up to Gallup's annual Environment poll.
Any of these could cause the ranks of "Concerned Believers" to expand further or shrink in the coming years, but for now, they represent the single largest global warming opinion group, Gallup found.
While the half of Americans classified as "Concerned Believers" take global warming very seriously, the other half are split between what Gallup calls "Cool Skeptics" and the "Mixed Middle."
Once the largest category of Americans on global warming, the "Mixed Middle" has decreased from a recent high of 45 percent in 2012 and now ranks second, at 31 percent, Gallup found.
Cool Skeptics have always been the smallest global warming segment, but at 19 percent, their numbers are diminished from 26 percent in 2015 and the high point of 28 percent in 2010, Gallup found.
In line with the strong partisan differences Gallup finds in Americans' responses to individual questions about global warming, the global warming groups are highly differentiated politically.
Nearly half of "Concerned Believers," or 47 percent, identify as Democrats, whereas 61 percent of "Cool Skeptics" are Republicans and the "Mixed Middle" is more independent than anything.
Concerned Believers are also weighted a bit more toward women and young adults, while the profile of Cool Skeptics skews decidedly male and older.
As Gallup found in 2014, education is not a strong discriminator between "Concerned Believers" and "Cool Skeptics." Roughly four in 10 people in each group are college graduates.
Lack of a college education is, however, strongly associated with being a member of the "Mixed Middle." In other words, being a college graduate is associated with having more hardened positions on global warming, Gallup said.