Americans start to care again about global warming

US concern over global warming is starting to rise again – good timing, perhaps, as the US Senate prepares to vote this week on whether to block the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

Since January, public belief that global warming is happening has risen from 57 to 61 percent, according to researchers at Yale and George Mason Universities. Belief that it’s caused mostly by human activities rose three points, to 50 percent.

And the number of Americans who said that the issue is personally important to them rose five points, to 63 percent.

“The stabilization and slight rebound in public opinion is occurring amid signs the economy is starting to recover, along with consumer confidence, and as memories of unusual snowstorms and scientific scandals recede,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

“The BP oil disaster is also reminding the public of the dark side of dependence on fossil fuels, which may be increasing support for clean energy policies.”

Americans who said President Obama and Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a high priority increased 11 points, to 71 percent.

Support rose for a number of policy options – particularly regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Support for this rose six percentage ponts to 77 percent.

“More than seven out of 10 Americans say the United States should take action to power our nation with clean energy,” said Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.

“Even more Americans support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, including 64 percent of Republicans.”