Research Finds Majority of Americans Admit Witnessing The Local Impacts of Climate Change And Want The Government To Take Action
Now the reality of climate crisis is undeniable to most Americans after seeing its local effects. The record heat waves from Alaska to Mississippi, record flooding, devastating wildfires in 2019, beaches closed due to algal blooms, and increased storm intensity are the notable evidence of climate crisis. Therefore they say the government needs to respond, according to a new survey from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center in Washington, DC.
As Science News reported, the poll found that 62 percent of Americans agree that the climate crisis is directly impacting their local communities, with unusually warm weather, increased flooding, droughts or wildfires, and changed ecosystems.
“What it looks like is happening is a larger portion of Americans are accepting that climate change is with us and poses a hazard,” says Risa Palm, an urban geographer at Georgia State University in Atlanta, not involved in the study, to Science News.
According to a statement from the Pew Research Center, the majority of U.S. adults are taking some minimum action in their daily lives to protect the environment. In a survey, 80% of Americans said they were reducing food waste, 72% were reducing the use of single-use plastic, 68% were reducing water use, 50% of respondents were driving less or using carpools, and 41 percent were eating less meat, Science News reported.
The two-thirds of adult Americans say the government role is too little in the reduction of the effects of the climate crisis, and for protection of air and water quality, the survey found.
The above findings are consistent with the Pew Center’s 2018 survey. However, the major change was the number of moderate Republicans who are more uneasy with the response of the government to the climate crisis.
“Previous analysis showed that concern about climate change has gone up over the past several years (since 2013) among Democrats but not Republicans,” said Cary Funk, director of science and society research at Pew, as Reuters reported.
The new survey polled 3,600 and more people in October and found that 65% of moderate Republicans said the federal government action was not enough to reduce the effects of global warming. It was 53 percent in 2018, according to Pew, as Reuters reported.
A stark difference observed between Democrats and Republicans. While 90% of Democrats said the government is not doing enough to address the climate crisis, only 39% of Republicans agreed. The Republican sentiment found to be significantly varied by age and gender.
“Among younger Republicans – adults in the Millennial generation and Generation Z, ages 18 to 38 in 2019 – 52% think the government is doing too little on climate. By comparison, 41% among Generation X and 31% of Baby Boomer and older Americans say this. Republican women (46%) also are more inclined than GOP men (34%) to think the government’s efforts on climate are insufficient,” the Pew Center reported in its statement.
Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, said to Reuters, “People are beginning to hear and see that the impacts of climate change are here – now.” The recent wildfires, floods, and hurricanes, likely have changed the opinions of young Republicans.
The residents on the West Coast who recently faced droughts, wildfires, and blackouts are most likely to say that the climate crisis affected their local community as 72% of respondents on the West Coast said the climate crisis impacted their area. However, in the Northeast, South, and Midwest, the percentage of people who said the same was around 60 percent, as Science News reported.
The Republicans and Democrats believe differently about the cause of the climate crisis. While 96% of Democrats agreed that human activity contributed significantly to the climate crisis, only 14 percent of conservative Republicans agreed to that. For another 39 percent, humans have “some” contribution, as Vox reported.
“The new measures speak directly to the current debate over the degree to which human actions are responsible for global climate change and how best to reduce the effects of climate change,” Funk said in an email to Vox.
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