This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including new polling on climate change and extreme weather, a new survey of climate attitudes among Spanish-speaking Latinos, and new polling about marine conservation.
- FiveThirtyEight + Ipsos - Majorities recognize that climate change is human-caused and affecting the weather both on a global scale and in their area; Americans underestimate how much public agreement there is on the issue (Article, Release, Full Report)
- Climate Power - Spanish-speaking Latinos in major Spanish markets are widely supportive of climate action, but are hearing misinformation about its economic impacts (Release)
- National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) + NORC - Americans across party lines want to protect marine areas from fossil fuel extraction and other commercial activities, as the public widely agrees on the importance of reducing water pollution and preserving marine species (Release, Full Report, Topline)
- The American public underestimates how much it agrees about climate change. FiveThirtyEight and Ipsos find that, while most Americans recognize the human causes of climate change and support action on the issue, less than half believe that most Americans also recognize the human causes of climate change. Educating Americans that they are part of the majority in recognizing the reality of human-caused climate change could create a positive feedback loop on public opinion by making people more comfortable discussing the issue, establishing climate awareness as a societal norm, and providing a permission structure for people who don’t feel that those around them care about the issue.
- Advocates should reinforce the link between climate change and extreme weather events as more Americans wake up to the connection. FiveThirtyEight and Ipsos additionally find that most Americans (in a survey fielded before Hurricane Ian made landfall in the Caribbean) believe that climate change is affecting the weather in their area and specifically making hurricanes more severe. As the devastating consequences of climate change are made clearer by more frequent news about extreme weather events, we can accelerate public urgency around climate change by helping more of the public understand that these types of events are climate-related.
- Marine conservation is a popular, bipartisan priority. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) and UChicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC) find broad, bipartisan support for proposals to create new marine protected areas where oil and gas drilling and commercial fishing are not allowed. If you’re looking for an issue area with strong agreement across the political spectrum, ocean conservation is an excellent option as polls commonly find that concerns about water pollution and conservation are widely shared across party lines.
GOOD DATA POINTS TO HIGHLIGHT
- [Climate Change] The majority of Americans (63%) recognize that climate change is “entirely” or “mostly” caused by humans [FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos]
- [Climate Change + Extreme Weather] 70% of Americans recognize that climate change is currently affecting the weather worldwide [FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos]
- [Climate Change + Extreme Weather] 60% of Americans recognize that climate change is currently affecting the weather in their area [FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos]
- [Climate Action] By a 65%-20% margin, Americans support tax credits for corporations that reduce carbon emissions [FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos]
- [Climate Action] By a 64%-23% margin, Americans support increased government regulation on corporations’ carbon emissions [FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos]
- [Marine Conservation] 70% of Americans support establishing marine protected areas in which oil and gas drilling is not allowed [NMSF + NORC]
- [Marine Conservation] 67% of Americans support increasing federal funding for programs that protect and restore U.S. ocean waters [NMSF + NORC]
- [RAWA] Voters support the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act by an 86%-6% margin after reading a brief, one-sentence description of the bill [NWF + Data for Progress]
FiveThirtyEight + Ipsos
Majorities recognize that climate change is human-caused and affecting the weather both on a global scale and in their area; Americans underestimate how much public agreement there is on the issue (Article, Release, Full Report)
This new poll of U.S. adults finds that clear majorities of Americans recognize that humans are causing climate change and that it is affecting people today through its impact on the weather:
- 70% believe that climate change is currently affecting the weather worldwide
- 63% recognize that climate change is either “entirely” (16%) or “mostly” (47%) caused by humans
- 60% believe that climate change is currently affecting the weather near them
- 54% believe that hurricanes will become more intense and stronger because of climate change
The majority who recognize that climate change will make hurricanes more severe is especially notable as the survey was fielded before Hurricane Ian made landfall in the Caribbean.
The poll also finds that there is a sizable gap between the percentage of Americans who recognize that climate change is caused entirely or mostly by human activities (63%) and the percentage who believe that most Americans recognize that climate change is caused entirely or mostly by human activities (45%). In other words, the American public underestimates how much it agrees on this issue.
Increasing understanding that most Americans agree about human-caused climate change is important for several reasons: it can make people more comfortable discussing the issue with others, it can establish concern about climate change as a societal norm, and it can provide a permission structure for people in groups that lag in recognizing human-caused climate change to reconsider their opinions.
Consistent with all other recent polling on climate change, FiveThirtyEight and Ipsos find that self-identified Republicans in particular are less likely than the rest of the country to accept that humans are causing climate change and to support action on the issue. Additionally, the poll finds that Americans - regardless of party affiliation - are inclined to incorrectly believe that climate change “impacts all Americans equally, regardless of race or income.”
Pulling from the release, with emphasis added in bold:
“Most Americans believe humans are entirely or mostly causing climate change, with large differences based on party affiliation.
- Most Americans believe that climate change is entirely caused by humans (16%) or mostly caused by humans (47%).
- Democrats are 2.5 times more likely than Republicans to believe humans are entirely or mostly causing climate change (88% vs. 35%). Independents are in the middle (65%).
- Instead, a plurality of Republicans say climate change is barely caused by humans (38%).
Many Americans report already experiencing the impacts of climate change. However, a majority (regardless of party) fail to recognize the disproportionate impact climate change has on Americans based on their race or income.
- Most Americans believe that climate change is currently affecting both the weather worldwide (70%) and near them (60%).
- In fact, 55% say they have experienced an extreme weather event in the past 5 years and 56% are worried about the impact climate change will have on them personally.
- Far fewer Republicans are worried about the impact climate change poses for them than Democrats (31% vs. 81%). Independents fall roughly in the middle (56%).
- A majority of Americans (54%) correctly believe that hurricanes will become more intense and stronger because of climate change. However, just 30% of Republicans believe this is true.
- A similar share (58%) incorrectly believe that climate change impacts all Americans equally, regardless of race or income. This is true regardless of party affiliation.
Americans prefer a mitigation approach to climate change over one that focuses on adaptation, though this varies among partisans.
- When forced to choose, Americans believe making changes today to reduce the worst impacts of climate change before they happen is a better path forward than adjusting to climate change as it happens in order to minimize disruptions to daily life today (66% vs. 29%). However, a majority of Republicans prefer the latter (57%).
- A plurality of Americans (45%) support passing stricter regulations related to climate change, and 64% believe the U.S. should fund research to help reduce the effects of climate change.
- Of the policies asked about, a bipartisan majority support increased emphasis on developing alternative energy sources and tax credits for corporations that reduce carbon emissions.
- Regardless of party affiliation, roughly four in 10 Americans are familiar with the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Spanish-speaking Latinos in major Spanish markets are widely supportive of climate action, but are hearing misinformation about its economic impacts (Release)
This new survey sampled Spanish-speaking Latinos in eight major Spanish markets across the United States - including both political battleground states (AZ, CO, GA, NM, and NV) and specific, heavily-Hispanic geographies (the Los Angeles Metro, Miami Metro, and Rio Grande Valley).
The survey finds high levels of support for climate action in general and the Inflation Reduction Act specifically among Spanish-speaking Latinos in these markets. However, the polling also shows that Spanish-speaking Latinos in these areas are being reached with a lot of misinformation about climate change - particularly through social media, and particularly with misinformation around the economic impacts of climate action.
Pulling from the release, with emphasis added in bold:
“Spanish-speaking Latinos are receptive, and expect to see action taken, to address climate change, even in the face of disinformation. Polling finds overwhelming support for climate action among Spanish-speaking Latinos across all demographics, with 81% overall who believe it is crucial or very important for the government to take action to slow or reduce the effects of climate change. In total, 83% of Spanish-speaking Latinos have a favorable view of what the Inflation Reduction Act will do, including 74% of conservative Latinos…
Disinformation messages framed around job loss and higher costs are most concerning among the Spanish-speaking Latino audience…. The most prominent piece of disinformation that Spanish-speaking Latinos believe is that transitioning away from oil and gas will mean eliminating millions of jobs (57% mostly true or more true than false), followed by a concern over higher prices and inflation as a result of transitioning into clean energy (49%).
A second prominent disinformation message requiring pushback is that climate change is just a naturally occurring cycle and not man made. Half of Spanish-speakers have both heard and believe that climate change is a naturally occurring cycle in which the earth gets hotter or colder every 11,000 years…
This disinformation narrative is getting through to younger Spanish-speaking Latinos far more widely compared to other age groups. When asked, nearly 6 out of 10 younger Latinos have heard of this message and believe it to be true or likely true, by more than a 20-percentage point margin compared to Spanish-speaking Latinos above 30. 58% of younger Latinos have heard this message compared to 52% of 30-49-year-olds and 38% of Latinos over 50. Meanwhile 63% of young Latinos believe this to be true or likely true compared to 42% of 30-49-year-olds and 40% of Latinos over 50.…
The most common sources of climate disinformation among Spanish-speaking Latinos differ across age groups but are primarily online, not conservative TV channels like Fox News. When respondents were asked where they had mostly heard, read, or seen the tested disinformation statements:
- Facebook is the most prominent source overall (46%), especially among Spanish-speaking Latinos over 30 years old (52%).
- YouTube and other social media sites like Instagram and Tiktok ranked second overall (30%) and are more prominent among 18-29-year-olds (54%).
- Overall, 24% said they have heard these narratives from Fox News and other conservative media channels.”
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) + NORC
Americans across party lines want to protect marine areas from fossil fuel extraction and other commercial activities, as the public widely agrees on the importance of reducing water pollution and preserving marine species (Release, Full Report, Topline)
The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago find that there are encouraging levels of agreement on the need to better protect marine areas from fossil fuel extraction and other threats.
The majority of Americans (55%) believe that the federal government is doing “too little” to protect the ocean, and overwhelming majorities - including majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans - support each of the following priorities:
- Reducing water pollution (86% support overall)
- Protecting threatened and endangered marine species (85%)
- Preventing fertilizers and pesticides from entering waterways (84%)
- Protecting marine areas that have environmental, educational, or cultural importance (82%)
- Preventing overfishing and illegal fishing (81%)
- Protecting public access to beaches, waterways, and ocean waters (79%)
Cross-partisan majorities also support each of the following proposals for marine conservation:
- Establishing marine protected areas in which oil and gas drilling is not allowed (70% support overall, including 56% support among Republicans)
- Establishing marine protected areas in which commercial fishing is not allowed, but recreational fishing is allowed (69% overall, 68% among Republicans)
- Using money that the federal government earns from energy development in the ocean to support ocean conservation, including funding for national marine sanctuaries (67% overall, 57% among Republicans)
- Increasing federal funding to support programs that protect and restore U.S. ocean waters (67% overall, 52% among Republicans)
- Collecting fees on industrial uses of the ocean such as mining, shipping, and energy development to support ocean protection and restoration (66% overall, 51% among Republicans)
- Establishing marine protected areas in which mining is not allowed (65% overall, 52% among Republicans)
- Providing funding for community-led efforts to create more marine protected areas, including national marine sanctuaries (64% overall, 52% among Republicans)
The survey also finds that Americans are more likely to support ocean conservation efforts if there is evidence that the damage to ocean health is permanent or impacts human health. When asked how much of an impact different types of evidence would have in convincing them to support ocean conservation efforts, three-fifths (60%) say that evidence of permanent damage and evidence that the quality of ocean health directly impacts human health and well-being would have “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of impact in convincing them.
Additionally, a majority (55%) say that evidence that ocean conservation efforts will help address climate change would have either “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of impact in persuading them to support these efforts
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