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Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence surround homes in Dillon in this photo from  Sept. 17, 2018. Scientists say climate change likely boosted rainfall totals for both Florence and 2017's Harvey.  AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

The vast majority of South Carolinians believe in global warming.

But the state is close to evenly split on whether exploration for gas and oil should go forward off the coast: with 47 percent opposed to it and 42 percent in support.

The trend is included in a new poll released Thursday by Winthrop University that shows South Carolina is keenly attuned to the future of the environment but that residents have differing views on what to do about a changing Earth and its resources.

While only 3 percent of the poll's respondents said they don't believe in climate change, there's far less agreement on whether that phenomenon is natural or driven by human activity. 

A plurality — 48 percent — believe the phenomenon is equally caused by human activity and natural forces, while 28 percent of respondents said humans were mostly to blame.

About 20 percent said it was completely natural. Two percent of respondents were unsure. 

Pollster Scott Huffmon of Winthrop said the results indicate more people are seeing global warming as a reality.

"When you give people plenty of opportunities to express what they really believe, there’s a lot fewer people who flat out deny climate change than you would think," he said.

Winthrop University, in Rock Hill, is the most consistent surveyor of voter moods in the state, issuing its polls several times a year.

The split on causes of global warming is strongly correlated with partisan identity, Huffmon said. Adults who identify with the GOP were less than half as likely to pin humans as the sole cause, at just 11 percent of those respondents.

Of the Republican-linked group, 52 percent said the effect was caused by both humans and nature, and 30 percent blamed nature alone. Among Democrats and those who lean toward the party, 45 percent blame humans for climate change, and 45 percent blamed both humans and nature. Only 9 percent felt it is solely a natural process. 

The new poll stands in stark contrast to a long-running survey by Yale University, which most recently found that just 66 percent of respondents in South Carolina believed in the phenomenon at all.  

Huffmon said that by not presenting a stark yes-or-no question on global warming that doesn't incorporate the potential causes, he was able to capture a more representative sample of opinion in the Palmetto State.

The vast majority of scientists who study the issue say that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use are driving the increase of global average temperatures in the atmosphere and in the planet's oceans. 

Winthrop's poll comes on the heels of a report from hundreds of scientists working for the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change, which advocated a broad transformation of the world economy to cut carbon emissions and stop warming.

Coastal areas like Charleston stand to bear some of the most severe effects, with even the possibility that a warmer climate could mean more severe earthquakes. 

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The Winthrop poll queried 674 adults statewide and carries a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

The poll also queried respondents about whether they supported permitting for offshore exploration and drilling of fossil fuels along the state's coast. 

A plurality, 47 percent, opposed it, with 42 percent in support. The remainder showed 10 percent unsure and 2 percent refusing to respond. 

Past surveys have shown that opposition to drilling is relatively split statewide but stronger along the coast, where residents and tourism officials alike worry about the possibility of a spill or similar disaster. 

It's become a driving issue in the 1st Congressional District race after Republican Katie Arrington initially signaled she supported President Donald Trump, who has pushed to reopen drilling permits along the Atlantic coast.

The district covers much of the state's shoreline, including portions of Charleston, Colleton and Beaufort counties. 

Democrat Joe Cunningham opposes opening the Atlantic coast to exploration. Arrington has since said she is opposed to drilling off South Carolina. 

Reach Chloe Johnson at 843-735-9985. Follow her on Twitter @_ChloeAJ.