Public skeptical of climate coverage

The public is skeptical of the news media’s coverage of climate change, according to a new poll.

Just 24 percent of those polled in a March Gallup survey say they believe the press is accurately portraying climate science.

Forty-two percent say the news media is exaggerating the seriousness of climate change, down slightly from the 2010 high of 48 percent. About 31 percent say the press is underestimating the effects of global warming. That’s up from 25 percent in 2010.

Far more Republicans than Democrats — 67 percent versus 20 — say media coverage of climate change is exaggerated.

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The vast majority of the world’s scientists say the climate is changing in large part due to human activity like the burning of fossil fuels. They warn that the planet could face dire consequences if nations don’t take drastic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But global warming has become a thorny political issue in recent years. Many conservatives, including a large number of Republicans in Congress, question climate science and oppose measures to reduce carbon pollution.

The Gallup poll found that 52 percent of the public believes that the effects of climate change — including sea-level rise, drought and extreme weather — are already occurring, as scientists say. That’s down from the 2008 high of 61 percent.

Twenty-nine percent of those polled say the planet will eventually begin to suffer the effects of climate change, while 15 percent say that will never happen.

A slight majority of the public, 53 percent, believes global warming is a result of human activity, while 41 percent say it is occurring naturally, as climate skeptics assert.