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Study: SF has highest percentage of people who think global warming is happening

SF Gate logo SF Gate 8/13/2018 Drew Costley

Do you think that global warming is happening? That's one of the questions that researchers from UC Santa Barbara, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and Utah State University asked people throughout the United States in a recent survey.

a person walking down a city street: This Oct. 23, 2014 photo shows a pedestrian mall in Bethesda, Md., where the busy downtown offers upscale retail stores and dozens of interesting restaurants. Bethesda's sidewalks are usually hopping with shoppers and pedestrians, and there's plenty of outdoor seating where you can relax and people-watch. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz) ORG XMIT: MER2014110621322274

This Oct. 23, 2014 photo shows a pedestrian mall in Bethesda, Md., where the busy downtown offers upscale retail stores and dozens of interesting restaurants. Bethesda's sidewalks are usually hopping with shoppers and pedestrians, and there's plenty of outdoor seating where you can relax and people-watch. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz) ORG XMIT: MER2014110621322274
© Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc

And based on their results, they estimate that the residents of the San Francisco metropolitan area have the highest percentage of people who "think that global warming is happening."

a large body of water with a city in the background: Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA. oakland gig © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA. oakland gig a large clock tower towering over a city: ** FILE ** This Tuesday, July 3, 2007 picture shows the skyline of Washington, D.C., including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol. No skyscrapers jut from this low-lying federal city, allowing iconic buildings like the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol to dominate the horizon. However, the historically sparse skyline might not stay that way. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds) © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc ** FILE ** This Tuesday, July 3, 2007 picture shows the skyline of Washington, D.C., including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol. No skyscrapers jut from this low-lying federal city, allowing iconic buildings like the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol to dominate the horizon. However, the historically sparse skyline might not stay that way. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

The researchers estimate that 82 percent of residents in the SF metro area, which includes Oakland, Berkeley, San Rafael and Hayward, believe that "the world's average temperature has been increasing over the past 150 years, may be increasing more in the future, and that the world's climate may change as a result."

a view of a city with tall buildings in the background: Aerial from Jersey City showing the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty with the New York Skyline in the background © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Aerial from Jersey City showing the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty with the New York Skyline in the background

According to the researchers, who are basing their estimates off of data collected since 2008, the Bay Area's percentage of people who think climate change is real is 12 percent higher than the national average.

a person standing next to a fire hydrant next to a tree: Local residents observe damages after a powerful overnight storm in the Washington, DC region June 30, 2012 in Falls Church, Virginia. The storm has left more than a million people in the greater Washington, DC area without power.

Local residents observe damages after a powerful overnight storm in the Washington, DC region June 30, 2012 in Falls Church, Virginia. The storm has left more than a million people in the greater Washington, DC area without power.
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Alameda County is estimated to have the highest percentage of residents (84 percent) who think global warming is happening out of any county in the country. And California's 13th and 12th Congressional Districts (Barbara Lee's district in the East Bay and Nancy Pelosi's district of San Francisco) are estimated to have the first and second highest percentage of climate change believers at 86 and 85 percent, respectively.

The data collected by the researchers and the estimates they made based on the data were used to create a series of heat maps that depict a citizenry that is still divided on climate change (despite an estimated 70 percent of U.S. residents believing it's real, according to the researchers).

a group of people walking on a sidewalk: The memorial surfboard in Downtown Half Moon Bay on April 29th, 2017. The board is dedicated "In honor of all the surf riders who enjoy our magnificent San Mateo coast." © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc The memorial surfboard in Downtown Half Moon Bay on April 29th, 2017. The board is dedicated "In honor of all the surf riders who enjoy our magnificent San Mateo coast."

Public opinion – even that of Bay Area residents – is much lower than the scientific consensus on climate change. According to a 2016 review of studies published in peer-reviewed journals, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that human-caused climate change is happening.

At the state level, California falls behind a bit (at 76 percent), with researchers estimating that it has the third highest percentage of residents who believe in climate change. Hawaii has the highest percentage of climate change believers (77 percent), according to the researchers, and New York has the second highest (76 percent).

a sunset over a city: Smoke and haze from wildfires hovers over the skyline Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, in San Francisco. Gusting winds and dry air forecast for Thursday could drive the next wave of devastating wildfires that are already well on their way to becoming the deadliest and most destructive in California history. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Smoke and haze from wildfires hovers over the skyline Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, in San Francisco. Gusting winds and dry air forecast for Thursday could drive the next wave of devastating wildfires that are already well on their way to becoming the deadliest and most destructive in California history. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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If you include Washington, D.C., then it comes out on top for the highest percentage of residents who believe climate change is real at 82 percent.

San Francisco County was the county with the second highest percentage of residents who believe climate change is real (83 percent), according to the researchers' estimates. San Jose's metropolitan area, which includes Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, had the sixth highest percentage of residents who believe in global warming (79 percent).

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