Poll: Americans haven't been this worried about climate change since 2008. That's good news.

Keith Gaby\

This post was updated with new temperature data on March 21, 2016.

A new Gallup Poll brings some interesting and encouraging news about Americans and climate change: Concern about global warming is at its highest point since 2008.

Nearly two-thirds of those polled, 64 percent, say they are “worried a great deal/fair amount” about this threat. That’s 9 percentage points higher than last year.

We’ve known for a while that most Americans accept the reality of climate change, but their level of concern has varied. So this jump in the realization that we’re facing a serious threat is noteworthy – if we can translate it into support for action.

Just as importantly, more Americans than ever see that these temperature changes are caused by human activities. That number, 65 percent, is 10 percentage points higher than last year.

That’s important because once you realize we are causing the problem, the next logical step is that we can fix it by doing things differently – such as move faster toward clean energy.

You might think the current polarized political atmosphere has made opinions on the issue more partisan, but the opposite is true. Today, 40 percent of Republicans say they worry a great deal or fair amount about climate change, up from 31 percent a year earlier.

It’s hard know to exactly why this shift is occurring, but I’d guess the media coverage of the climate talks in Paris had an impact.

Not only was there an increase in reporting on the science and impacts of climate change, but people saw the whole world come together to solve a problem. That makes it harder to tell yourself it’s all hoax.

And the fact that we just finished the warmest winter ever recorded, after 2015 shattered all heat records, probably woke up some people who hadn’t been paying close attention.

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