What do Americans really think about climate change?

think about climate change, research
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Climate Insights 2020 assessed 27,661 people across different States, to explore what Americans really think about climate change

“This data provides strong signals to many policymakers about how their constituents would like them to vote on legislation related to global warming,” Climate Insights report co-author Jon Krosnick said.

“With just over a week until the presidential election, these findings document the likely role that climate will play in voting decisions from coast to coast.”

Over a year ago, the Pew Research Center asked people the same questions about the climate. It turns out that 67% of US adults feel that the federal Government did too little to reduce the impact of climate change, while 68% further agree about inactivity on water quality. Water quality is especially potent, as the people of Flint, Michigan found during one of the most harrowing water crises in contemporary America. In 2014, a water supply switch meant that lead-poisoned water was pumped into homes across the area. Many Black communities suffered significant health setbacks, from losing their hair to rashes. Incredibly, the poisoned-water crisis was not resolved until 2016. Children became the voice of the movement to gain clean water in Flint, such as Amariyanna Copeny – who became known as ‘Little Miss Flint’ for her work to draw national and international attention to the Flint water crisis.

Now, with the next President about to be chosen, how do people feel about this increasingly domestic issue?

‘Climate change will be a serious problem’

The majority of residents in all analysed states hold “green” opinions. For example, more than 70% of residents in all states believe that climate change has occurred.

At least 60% of people in all analysed states believe that climate change will be a serious problem for the United States and world. The “issue public”(the people who consider climate change extremely personally important and vote based on the issue) varies from state to state. In Rhode Island, 33% of people care deeply about climate change, while in South Dakota only 9% do so.

People in states that gave more votes to President Trump in the 2016 election demonstrated a lower level of acceptance of the fundamentals of climate change and reduced support for specific policies to mitigate it. The larger the majority expressing “green” opinions on climate change, the more likely their US congressional representatives were to vote for “green” policies. The more of a state’s population is passionate about the issue, the more likely representatives are to vote for those policies.

Read the report here.


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