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Poll: Americans Are Well Aware Of Climate Change — But Not About The Government’s Efforts To Fight It
Americans are widely concerned about climate change and link it to extreme weather. Most say they’ve changed their personal behaviors due to environmental concerns. A majority of Americans — 71 percent — said their local community has endured at least one of five forms of extreme weather over the last year. And according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll from earlier this month, a majority of Americans supported measures such as incentives to lower the cost of renewable energy and using government funds to promote oil and gas companies to reduce emissions. These policies are popular even among Republicans: 53 percent of Republicans supported the cost-lowering incentives and 50 percent supported funding to lower emissions from oil and gas companies. The federal government has already done both of those things — they were provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act. It’s the most aggressive climate-change law the country has ever enacted, yet many Americans appear unfamiliar with it: In that same Reuters/Ipsos poll, which was conducted a few days before the bill passed the Senate, just 41 percent of Americans said they were familiar with the legislation.
More Educational Outreach on Extreme Heat Needed in the Midwest and Southwest
There's a need for more educational outreach on extreme heat, especially in the midwest and southwest. Public opinion estimates from the Yale Climate Opinion Maps show that 65% of Americans were “very” or “somewhat” worried about global warming in the fall of 2021, with substantial county-level variation. Nationally, only 47% of Americans think they will be personally harmed by global warming. Of greatest concern are the counties primarily in the Midwest that have relatively high exposure to extreme heat but lower-than-average levels of worry about global warming. The 217 counties that fall into the “Higher Exposure, Lower Worry” category about 6.4M people (2.6% of U.S. population). Analysis of the socioeconomic characteristics of these counties show that they have a median household income of around $57K per year, which is about 9% below the overall median household income in the United States ($62K).
Americans are split on whether their personal actions can have an effect on climate change. Most people are taking a variety of steps that reduce their climate impact, but they are often more motivated by finances than environmental concerns. Just 52% of people in 2022 say their “actions have an effect on climate change” (down from 66% in 2019). 35% of people say they are “extremely/very concerned” about the effects of climate change on them personally (down from 44% in 2019).
Poll: Most Americans who have faced extreme weather see a link to climate change – Republicans included
Most Americans who have experienced one in the past year see at least some link to climate change. That includes majorities in both political parties, though Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say climate change contributed “a lot” to these events. Overall, around four-in-ten Americans say their local community has experienced severe weather like floods and intense storms (43%) or long periods of unusually hot weather (42%) in the past year. Smaller shares say their community has experienced droughts or water shortages (31%), major wildfires (21%) or rising sea levels that erode beaches and shorelines (16%). Collectively, 71% of Americans say their community has experienced at least one of these five forms of extreme weather in the past year. Among those who have, more than eight-in-ten say climate change contributed at least a little to each type of event. Among those who say their community has experienced severe weather like floods or intense storms in the past year, 95% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say climate change contributed at least a little, compared with 65% of Republicans and GOP leaners. But while 64% of these Democrats say climate change contributed a lot, just 24% of Republicans say the same.
Poll: Voters Support the Inflation Reduction Act
Voters overwhelmingly back the Inflation Reduction Act. Further, the bill’s historic investments in clean energy enjoy bipartisan support. The bill enjoys support from an overwhelming majority of Democrats (95 percent), nearly three-quarters of Independents (73 percent), and over half of Republicans (52 percent). Among the most widely supported parts of the bill are fair labor and wage standards for businesses that utilize government tax credits for clean energy projects (90% Democratic and 62% Republican support); investments in conservation measures such as sustainable agriculture, coastal restoration, and forest preservation (88% Democratic and 61% Republican support); and grants to reduce air pollution at our nation’s ports to improve public health in surrounding communities (91% Democratic and 56% Republican support). A majority of voters (51 percent), including 73 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of Independents, think the Inflation Reduction Act will increase America’s energy security. Passing the Inflation Reduction Act could help boost Democrats’ hopes of winning the November 2022 midterm elections—initially, before voters learn about the Inflation Reduction Act, Republicans lead Democrats in the election for Congress by +4 points, but nearly two-thirds of voters (64 percent) of voters say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the Inflation Reduction Act.
Post-Disaster Climate Migration Messaging Guide
Advocates can frame migration as a key solution to the new era of climate-driven extreme weather and displacement, build solidarity with displaced peoples, and build a more intersectional and powerful movement for climate action. Call for protections for people displaced by climate impacts alongside demands for decarbonization. Start with values like family, care, compassion, solidarity and treating other people how we would want to be treated. Provide aspirational calls to provide something good. Offer clear solutions and alternatives. Pivot the narrative to the real villains. Point the finger of blame and name the motivation that underpins anti-immigrant policies and narratives. Center the leadership and experiences of those directly-impacted by the climate crisis and anti-immigrant policies.
How to Talk About ‘Extreme Weather’ With Your Angry Uncle
To make the case for climate action convincingly, listen first, and then to meet people where they are. Convincing people on both sides of the aisle that they are not alone in their fears, that there are solutions to the challenges we face, and that their own actions can make a difference is the first step toward holding politicians to account. Becoming a climate activist doesn’t require changing political parties or renouncing long-held values. “It’s really a matter of showing people that they are already the perfect person to care because of who they are, and that climate action would be an even more genuine expression of their identity,” said Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, author of Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.
Voters side with simulated Democratic arguments on climate that emphasize how climate change is already here over simulated Republican arguments that raise doubts about the science and the cost of action. Four in five Americans believe the climate is changing and that climate change is a problem for Americans today. Those who say that the weather in their community has changed are most likely to cite hotter temperatures and increased droughts and wildfires. Biden and Democrats are more trusted than Republicans when it comes to protecting the environment and addressing climate change.
Climate Change in the American Mind, April 2022
Public understanding of several key indicators – that climate change is happening, affecting the weather, harming Americans, etc. – have declined back to levels from March 2021. Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who think it is not happening by a ratio of 6 to 1 (72% versus 12%). Those who are “very” or “extremely” sure global warming is happening outnumber those who are “very” or “extremely” sure it is not happening more than 7 to 1 (54% versus 7%). A majority of Americans (64%) say they are at least “somewhat worried” about global warming. Three in ten (30%) say they are “very worried.” About half of Americans (48%) think people in the United States are being harmed by global warming “right now,” and four in ten (43%) say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming. Two in three Americans (67%) say they “rarely” or “never” discuss global warming with family and friends, while one in three (33%) say they do so “occasionally” or “often.” A majority of Americans (61%) disagree with the statement “it’s already too late to do anything about global warming,” while only 17% agree. A majority of Americans (63%) think global warming is affecting weather in the United States, including 32% who think weather is being affected “a lot.” This report details these and other findings.
Voters in Western States are attracted to elected leaders who want to protect public lands, invest in clean energy, and respond to climate change. Voters in these states widely agree that climate change is fundamentally changing life in the West. Notably, over three-quarters of Western voters (78%) agree that the effects of climate change are “fundamentally changing life in the West” - including overwhelming majorities of Democrats (94%) and independents (81%) and more than half of Republicans (54%). And looking ahead to November, over four in five Western voters (81%) say that public lands, parks, and wildlife issues are important to their decisions about who to vote for in the midterm elections - including large majorities of Democrats (87%), independent (81%), and Republicans (73%). This four-state poll of voters in Western States finds widespread agreement among Western voters about the needs to conserve public lands, develop clean energy sources, and protect Western communities from extreme weather: 91% agree that leaders need to do more to plan for more severe droughts and wildfires; 81% agree that leaders need to do more to protect public lands for hunting, fishing, and recreation; 78% agree that leaders need to do more to support the clean energy industries in their states; 71% agree that leaders aren’t doing enough to reverse the effects of climate change.