Monday, May 4, 2020

Polling Trends: A Growing Number of Americans Support Climate Action

According to recent U.S. polling there is a trend towards increased concern about climate change and evidence to suggest growing public support for environmental protections. Here is a summary of the results of 15 polls conducted in the last five years that survey American attitudes on climate change and the environment.  A 2018 poll by ecoAmerica and Lake Research Partners’ indicates that 88 percent of Americans believe we have a moral responsibility to create a safe and healthy climate for ourselves and our children.

Large majorities of Americans across all community types believe urgent action is needed to reduce the pollution that is causing climate change. They also all believe that the U.S. should produce more wind and solar energy, and less coal.

According to a poll from the Yale Program for Climate Change Communication, in 2018 a record 69 percent of voting-age Americans say they are worried about climate change. Almost one third say they are very worried, the highest percentage ever recorded.

A February 2019 Pew survey found that 63 percent of U.S. adults say stricter environmental regulations are "worth the cost," up from 59 percent two years ago. What is really interesting is the finding that support for environmental regulations is also increasing among Republicans, with 45 percent saying the cost of environmental regulations is worth it compared to 36 percent in 2017.

According to a February 2019 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, almost two-thirds of Americans say that the Republican Party’s position on climate change is "outside the mainstream". This is an increase of almost 10 percentage points since the question was last asked in 2015.

According to a March, 2019 Gallup poll, 65 percent of Americans prioritize the environment compared  to 30 who do not. This is the largest pro-environment margin since 2000. This represent an 8 point increase from 2018. Younger people (under 35) prioritize the environment more than do older people (over 35).

As reported in the Atlantic in March 2019, several recent polls reveal that there is a nearly 10-point surge in concern about climate change among Americans. "We’ve not seen anything like that in the 10 years we’ve been conducting the study," Anthony Leiserowitz, a researcher at Yale, told the Atlantic's Robsinson Meyer.

As reported by Wired in April 2019 a Monmouth University poll suggests that the number of Republicans who accept the veracity of climate change is increasing. In 2016 less than half (49%) of Republicans accepted the reality of climate change, by last December that number rose to almost two thirds (63%).

However, the partisan divide was still alive and well as evidenced by a July 2019 Pew poll which found that 84 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents view climate change as a major threat, compared to only 27 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. The share of Democrats who consider climate change a top priority for the federal government has jumped more than 20 points since 2015. Despite an ongoing partisan divide the trend suggests even Republicans are starting to come around to a fact based acknowledgement of climate change.

As reported by Big Think, two September 2019 polls conducted by CBS News and The Washington Post with the Kaiser Family Foundation indicated a growing number of Americans believe humans cause climate change. Two thirds of Americans said they believed humans fuel climate change. and approximately half called it a "crisis."

A December 2019 Environmental Voter poll found that climate and the environment are surging as voter priorities in the US. This survey also found that climate and environment voters are the most motivated to vote in 2020 of all the issue constituency groups. The same poll found that voting by mail could significantly increase voter turnout. 

A February 2020 poll by the American Psychological Association found that a majority of US adults believe climate change is the most important issue. More than half of U.S. adults (56%) say climate change is the most important issue facing society today. While 7 in 10 say they wish there were more they could do to combat climate change, 51 percent of U.S. adults say they don’t know where to start. And as the election race heats up, 62 percent say they are willing to vote for a candidate because of his or her position on climate change. People are taking some steps to combat climate change, with 6 in 10 saying they have changed a behavior to reduce their contribution to climate change. Nearly three-quarters (72%) say they are very or somewhat motivated to make changes.

In terms of who Americans trust for guidance on the issue the July 2019 Pew poll found that health professionals were the most trusted, followed by the media and local community leaders. Trust is lowest for the President and federal elected officials.

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