New Demographic Data Shines Light on American Climate Views
A fascinating set of maps newly released from Yale and Utah State University offer a unique perspective on American views on climate change – all the way down to the county level. Some of the findings are encouraging. For example, Americans in 99 percent of U.S. counties believe climate change is happening. Other news is not as positive. Many Americans don’t realize there is firm scientific consensus on climate change, or don’t feel it will impact them in their lifetime.
But as this Slate Magazine article points out, Americans are nonetheless extremely supportive of government action on climate change, including funding for renewable energy research (100 percent of counties) and strict carbon emission limits for coal-fired power plants (95 percent of counties). Combined with other recent polling that shows Americans are more likely to back a climate-friendly President, these numbers seem to bode well for the 2016 elections, and also support the strategy of emphasizing solutions when communicating about climate. However, though it’s very uplifting to see people acting for the good of future generations, it’s also important for them to be aware of the climate impacts happening now.
Eric Holthaus, Contributor to Slate
On Monday, researchers from Yale and Utah State University unveiled a new statistical technique that allows an in-depth accounting of Americans’ attitudes toward global warming. The resulting maps—down to the county level—reveal some interesting takeaways.
First, Americans overwhelmingly agree that global warming is happening. Out of 3,143 total counties in the United States, majorities of just 39 counties disagree. That means nearly 99 percent of all counties in the country “believe in” global warming—with the holdouts confined to deeply conservative places like Limestone County, Alabama, or coal-producing Putnam County, West Virginia. That aligns broadly with a recent 98-1 Senate vote that global warming is real and “not a hoax.” The lone holdout in that vote was Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker.
Image credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images (top left), Yale Project on Climate Change Communications (above right)