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Americans widely believe that climate action will benefit people’s health and make the country stronger, but tend to say that those around them aren’t as concerned about climate change as they are. 89% of Americans agree that clean air and water are critical rights for all people. 86% of Americans agree that everyone has a right to clean energy that does not pollute the air or water. 85% of Americans agree that we have a moral responsibility to create a safe and healthy climate for ourselves and our children. 75% of Americans agree that the government needs to protect people from the impacts of extreme weather. 74% of Americans agree that they can help reduce the pollution that is causing climate change. 73% of Americans agree that investing in solutions to climate change will benefit American communities and make our country stronger. 69% of Americans say that it would improve people’s health if the United States took steps to deal with climate change. 65% of Americans say that they will vote for leaders who will prioritize climate change solutions.
Center the climate impacts on real people when persuading others to support climate policies. This resource found that every single narrative studied drove support for immediate government action on climate change. But one message rose above the rest—it was a story: “Bucky Squier was just 17 years old when Camp Fire in California terrorized his hometown in 2018. ‘I have friends who lost their homes in that fire,’ he recounts. ‘My community has pretty much never been the same. I couldn’t even practice cross country for weeks because of the smoke.’ Bucky is just one of many across the country affected by extreme weather. In 2022, 8 in 10 Americans reported being affected by extreme weather. 1 in 4 of those experienced serious health problems. Pollution is what drives climate change, leading to more frequent and severe extreme weather. Fighting pollution is the solution to limiting climate change and extreme weather. We need to support action on pollution to protect ourselves and the lives of our loved ones.” After listening to this narrative, participants were 9% more likely to support government action on climate change (and 7% more likely to strongly support). Other messages included ‘holding polluters accountable,’ ‘risks to food and water,’ dangers from extreme weather,’ ‘risks to what we value,’ ‘threatens the way we live,’ and ‘increases costs and damages.’
Nearly two in three Americans say that their area has been experiencing unusually high temperatures, but Republicans are less likely to acknowledge extreme heat than Democrats. 65% of Americans recognize that their area has experienced unusually high temperatures in recent weeks. Recent high temperatures have made 75% of Democrats but just 28% of Republicans more concerned about climate change and 21% of Democrats but 64% of Republicans report it hasn’t changed their opinion. 50% of Republicans (and 78% of Democrats) do say their area has experienced higher temperatures recently.
More voters report unusual weather this summer than last summer, especially extreme heat. Those affected overwhelmingly blame it on climate change. 79% of voters support the United States using more clean energy like wind and solar so we can reduce the pollution that causes climate change. Voters have overwhelmingly positive opinions of clean energy companies (72% favorable / 16% unfavorable), while oil and gas companies are underwater (42% favorable / 48% unfavorable). 79% of Americans say hotter weather has impacted their communities this year. 51% say heat this summer has been different from years past.
Many Americans are worried about extreme heat and understand it is affected by climate change. In Spring 2023, this research found that most Americans (72%) are at least “a little” worried about extreme heat harming their local area – and extreme heat tops the list of worries about climate impacts (e.g., droughts, flooding, water shortages). Additionally, a large majority of Americans (75%) think that global warming is affecting extreme heat at least “a little,” including 42% who say global warming is affecting it “a lot.” Over the past five years, Americans have grown more worried that extreme heat might harm their local area, increasing +9 percentage points from 35% in March 2018 (13% “very;” 21% “moderately”) to 44% in April 2023 (21% “very;” 24% “moderately”). The percentage of Americans who are “very” worried about extreme heat harming their local area has also increased over time (+8 points).
Effects of the climate crisis and various political responses have captured attention on social media and online news media recently. Several Instagram posts about the global record-breaking heat this month went viral – and they exemplify a key issue that the climate world is facing: how do we talk about the climate crisis without making people feel too doomed or helpless in the face of it? Seventh Generation, an eco-friendly paper, cleaning, and personal care product corporation, is running ads in favor of the Green New Deal. Presidential candidate and conspiracy theorist RFK Jr. is a staunch believer in climate change… but he also thinks it’s being used to impose totalitarian control, according to social media posts. The FTC is reviewing its “Green Guides” for the first time in nearly a decade.
Most American say that climate change is contributing to the Southwest heat wave, and a growing share say that climate change has made things worse in their lives. 55% of Americans recognize that climate change is contributing to extreme weather events such as the heat wave across the Southwest United States. 58% of Americans recognize that human activity is causing climate change. 56% of Americans say that climate change is an established scientific fact.
Three in five Americans say that extreme weather is related to climate change. Most expect climate change to have a “significant negative effect” on the world in their lifetimes. 60% of Americans say that extreme weather events in the United States over the last few years are related to climate change. 67% of Americans say they're concerned about climate change, including 42% who are "very" concerned. 55% of Americans believe that climate change will have a significant negative effect on the world in their lifetime.
Amid Farm Bill negotiations, voters in key states are more likely to support political candidates who want to help farmers to adapt to extreme weather and to be part of the solution to climate change. Voters in the four states are highly motivated in their support for programs that would help farmers adapt to extreme weather and mitigate climate change. Majorities in Colorado (69%), Georgia (66%), Michigan (65%) and Pennsylvania (70%) said they would be more likely to support a candidate for office who offered ideas along those lines. Large majorities in each of the four states, upwards of 76% of voters, identified corporate consolidation that squeezes small and midsize farmers and food businesses as a threat in their state. Notably, that jumped to 89% of households with a farmer. Majorities in every state, with a high of 89% in Pennsylvania, supported increasing investments that help small and midsize farmers compete with large corporate agribusiness. Very large majorities of voters supported programs that help farmers protect water quality and keep more carbon and nutrients in their soil, from 86% in Georgia to a high of 88% in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Majorities of voters in each state – as many as 68% in Michigan – and 66% of voters with a farmer in the house said water pollution caused by agricultural runoff is a threat to their state.
Californians overwhelmingly support climate action at the state level, and state residents widely back offshore wind and oppose offshore drilling, as they understand that protecting coastal areas is important for the state economy and quality of life. 83% of Californians support allowing wind power and wave energy projects off the California coast. 77% of Californians recognize that climate change has contributed to California’s recent extreme weather events. 73% of Californians support the state law that requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030. 68% of Californians support the state law that requires 100 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by the year 2045. 66% of Californians support the state’s cape-and-trade system.