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A new study from Yale and George Mason University found that the number of people who don’t believe in global warming has grown 7% since the spring of 2013. That brings the total to 23%, the highest percentage in the past six years. While most American still believe the Earth is warming, the number of people who believe it’s caused by human activity has decreased to a mere 47%.

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So why the sudden shift in attitudes over the past year? According to the authors of the study, it may have to do with the highly-publicized concept of a “global warming pause” pushed by climate skeptics last September. That’s when the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their Fifth Assessment Report, and opponents were desperate to undermine the panel’s findings.

The concept of a “pause” in the warming of the planet is largely the result of statistical cherry-picking, according to climate experts. Proponents claim that in the past 15 years, global warming has actually slowed down or stopped completely, to the point that it is no longer of any concern. In reality, clear warming trends are still obvious if one looks at the data gathered over several decades. While the rate of change is slower than it used to be, the planet is still rapidly approaching a dangerous rise in global temperatures.

It seems likely that widespread conservative media coverage of this so-called “pause” last year convinced many people who were on the fence about climate change that it’s not really occurring. In a sense, this phenomenon is very similar to conservative pundits who point to unusually low winter temperatures in an attempt to disprove climate change.

Via Slashdot