Americans rate climate scientists’ understanding of aspects of climate change slightly lower than they did two years ago and the same or lower than in 2016.
The share of Americans who say climate scientists understand very well whether climate change is occurring decreased from 37% in 2021 to 32% this year.
Similarly, the share of Americans who say climate scientists understand the causes of climate change very well decreased slightly from 28% in 2021 to 24% today. And only 13% of Americans now say climate scientists understand very well the best ways to address climate change, down from 18% in 2021.
Analysis of recent scientific publications finds widespread agreement among climate scientists that human activity is the primary cause of climate change. The Center recently conducted in-depth interviews to better understand the views of adults who say climate change is not an urgent issue and are unconvinced human activity is its main cause.
Partisan differences in views of climate scientists
Democrats continue to rate climate scientists’ understanding much higher than Republicans do.
When asked how well climate scientists understand whether climate change is happening, 52% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say climate scientists understand this very well. In comparison, 51% of Republicans and Republican leaners say climate scientists understand this not too or not at all well.
Democrats are also four times as likely as Republicans to say climate scientists understand very well how climate change affects extreme weather events (40% vs. 10%). Scientific studies have found that extreme weather events will become more frequent and intense with climate change.
When it comes to the causes of climate change, 41% of Democrats say climate scientists understand this very well, compared with 7% of Republicans. About six-in-ten Republicans (59%) say climate scientists understand this not too or at all well.
Small shares of both Democrats and Republicans say climate scientists understand very well the best ways to address climate change, though Democrats are more likely to say this (23% vs. 4%, respectively). Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say climate scientists understand this not too or at all well (71% vs. 24%).
There are also ideological divides within the GOP on climate scientists’ policy influence. Conservative Republicans are about twice as likely as moderate and liberal Republicans to say climate scientists have too much influence in public policy debates (60% vs. 29%).