Study: Half of Americans, Majority of White Evangelicals Believe Natural Disasters Are Rising Due to 'End Times' Not Climate Change

Hurricane Sandy pictured in Oct. 2012.
Hurricane Sandy pictured in Oct. 2012. | (Photo: Reuters)

Nearly half of Americans now believe that the recent surge in natural disasters is the result of biblical "End Times" than climate change, and more than two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants hold this belief, according to a new study.

While only 44 percent of Americans agreed in 2011 that natural disasters are evidence of the apocalypse, their number has now increased to 49 percent, the Public Religion Research Institute reported, quoting results of a new poll.

Especially white evangelical Protestants are more likely — 77 percent — to attribute the severity of recent natural disasters to the End Times than to climate change, added the poll on religion and the environment.

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African-American Protestants were close behind white evangelicals in attributing natural calamities to the end times. But, they are most likely to acknowledge climate change at the same time.

However, the study also found that only 39 percent of Americans believe that God would not allow humans to destroy the earth, while 53 percent disagree.

The poll added that 57 percent of Americans believe that God holds humans responsible for animals, plants and other resources which are not just for human benefit. By contrast, about one-third of Americans say that God gave humans the right to use animals, plants and all other resources of the planet solely for their own benefit.

The study found that Hispanic Catholics are among the most concerned faith groups about climate change, almost at par with religiously unaffiliated Americans.

The study showed that 54 percent of Americans say that science and religion are often in conflict, but substantially fewer believe that science clashes with their own religious beliefs.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans say that science does not conflict with their religious beliefs, while roughly 40 percent disagree, saying that science sometimes conflicts with their religious beliefs.

These attitudes have remained stable over the last few years, the study noted.

The poll also said that while 46 percent of Americans believe the earth is getting warmer and blame it on human activity, 25 percent say the global temperature is rising but due to natural fluctuations in the earth's environment or uncertain causes. Besides, 26 percent of Americans say there is no concrete evidence that the earth's temperature has been rising over the past few decades.

Americans who identify with the Tea Party are even more skeptical about the existence of climate change than Republicans, the study added, saying that less than one-quarter of Tea Party members believe in climate change and 53 percent of them do not believe so.

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