Climate Change Acceptance Is Up – Concern Is Not
As we have discussed in previous posts, acceptance of climate change among Americans is on the increase – 70 percent of Americans (and 54 percent of Republicans) say they believe climate change is happening. However, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only one out of three are moderately worried about climate impacts, and only one in four are very worried. Some people believe the effects won’t be felt in their lifetime, while people in the heartland might feel it’s more of a coastal problem.
This doesn’t mean Americans won’t support climate solutions – other surveys have shown that Americans overwhelmingly favor clean energy. 84 percent of Latino voters believe it’s very important to fight air pollution. 73 percent of millennial voters say they favor a candidate with a strong clean-energy policy. And though 26 state attorney generals have sued the EPA over the Clean Power Plan, 61 percent of voters in those states actually support the rule.
We can help reinforce the support for clean energy and other climate solutions by emphasizing the co-benefits of those solutions. But we also need to help raise the level of urgency about climate change, so voters will be galvanized to demand swift action.
One way is to continue to make the link between climate change and local impacts like droughts and severe storms. Another is to show how climate change is already impacting the health of Americans. But most importantly, we need to connect climate change with common concerns and values such as protecting the well-being of loved ones.
As climate scientist and MomentUs leader Katharine Hayhoe says, “More facts are not going to fix the problem. Nearly every human on the planet has the values they need to care about climate change. We just need to connect the dots.”
By Seth Borenstein, contributor to The Associated Press
Americans are hot but not too bothered by global warming.
Most Americans know the climate is changing, but they say they are just not that worried about it, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. And that is keeping the American public from demanding and getting the changes that are necessary to prevent global warming from reaching a crisis, according to climate and social scientists.
As top-level international negotiations to try to limit greenhouse gas emissions start later this month in Paris, the AP-NORC poll taken in mid-October shows about two out of three Americans accept global warming and the vast majority of those say human activities are at least part of the cause.
However, fewer than one in four Americans are extremely or very worried about it, according the poll of 1,058 people. About one out of three Americans are moderately worried and the highest percentage of those polled — 38 percent — were not too worried or not at all worried.
Image credit: AP Photo/Jason DeCrow