Climate Change: More Americans Believing It's Real

On the heels of several extreme weather events, more Americans are coming to terms with climate change, according to a new Duke University poll.

More than half the poll participants report believing climate change is caused by human behavior. The latest numbers are at its highest in years, and these sentiments may be evidence of a new pattern in public awareness and acceptance of climate change.

The survey, which sampled more than 1,000 people, found that 54% agreed that climate change has a direct relationship to human actions such as the excess burning of fossil fuels. This number is the highest its been since 2006, according to the study.

”Whether in response to extreme weather events like mega-storm Sandy or the improved economy, public opinion has clearly rebounded from its low point of a couple years ago,” Although there appears to be little prospect for tax or cap-and-trade legislation in the current Congress, there is a clear opening for stronger regulation and investments in clean energy,” said Duke associate professor and co-author of the study, Frederick Mayer.

Academics and citizens aren't the only ones thinking about the state of the Earth. President Obama broached the issue of climate change policy in his second inaugural address and was adamant that change must be made in Washington, D.C.

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it,” Obama said in his speech.

Although the study showed an increase concern from voters on climate change and green policies, there was a strong divide in partisanship. Of the sample polled, roughly half of registered Democrats feel the problem is “very serious.” Additionally, 35% of Independents and only 17% of Republicans agree with the “very serious” category.

The study also concluded that there was strong opposition to current policy measures on the regulation of greenhouse emissions such as taxes on carbon and cap-and-trade practices. While a majority of the sample polled agreed that climate change must be addressed more in Washington, the overarching issue is the partisan divide.

While Obama has made it clear his intention to move forward with liberal-favored policies, it does not appear that the GOP in Congress will let go of their conservative sentiments on climate change. The solution is obvious, if more Republican voters can get on board with climate change policy, then some serious changes may finally partake in Washington.