Despite the fact that the debate in the scientific community has been settled for several years, just 34% of Americans now believe there is solid evidence that the "earth is getting warmer because of human activity" and just 59% believe that there is solid evidence that the earth is warming at all according to a new Pew poll reported in the New York Times. In 2006, 50% believed that human activity was changing the climate and 79% accepted that the earth was getting warmer, but public acceptance of climate change dropped precipitously over 2008-2009 and has stayed approximately stable since. Most shockingly of all, just 44% of Americans understand that "scientists agree that the earth is getting warmer because of human activity" down from 59% in 2006.
In what the Times refers to as the "Grand Canyon of disbelief" just 38% of Republicans, about to take control of the House of Representatives and 30% of members of the newly powerful Tea Party believe that the earth is getting warmer at all. On the other hand 79% of Democrats -- who control the Senate and the White House -- recognize that the planet is warming.
The survey had a margin of error of +/-2.5%, with large margins of error for subgroups, such as Republicans and Democrats.