Most Americans See Local Effects of Climate Crisis and Say Government Needs to Respond, Research Shows
The salient reality of the climate crisis is undeniable to many Americans. We have seen record heat waves from Alaska to Mississippi, record flooding, beaches closed due to algal blooms, increased storm intensity and devastating wildfires in 2019. Now, most Americans say the climate crisis is bearing down on them, and the government needs to do more to stop it, according to a new survey from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center in Washington, DC.
The poll found that 62 percent of Americans say the climate crisis is directly impacting their local communities, usually with increased flooding, unusually warm weather, changed ecosystems, droughts or wildfires, as Science News reported.
"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.
A majority of U.S. adults say they are taking at least some action in their daily lives to protect the environment, according to a statement from the Pew Research Center. The survey found that 80 percent of Americans said they were reducing food waste, 68 percent said they were reducing water use, and 41 percent said were eating less meat. About half of respondents said they were driving less or using carpools more, while 72 percent said they reduced how much single use plastic they used, as Science News reported.
The survey also found that two-thirds of adults say the government is doing too little to reduce the effects of the climate crisis, and it is doing too little to protect air and water quality.
While those findings are consistent with the Pew Center's 2018 survey, the major change was the number of moderate Republicans who are increasingly uneasy with the government's response 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, which polled more than 3,600 people in October, found that 65 percent of moderate Republicans said the federal government was not doing enough to reduce the effects of global warming. That's up from 53 percent in 2018, according to Pew, as Reuters reported.
There is a stark divide between Democrats and Republicans. Ninety percent of Democrats said the government is not doing enough to address the climate crisis, but only 39 percent of Republicans agreed. However, it turns out that Republican sentiment varied greatly 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.
"People are beginning to hear and see that the impacts of climate change are here - now," said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, to Reuters. He noted that the recent wildfires, hurricanes, and floods likely helped shift young Republican's opinions.
The people who are most likely to say that the climate crisis affected their local community live on the West Coast where residents recently faced droughts, wildfires and blackouts. On the West Coast, 72 percent of respondents said the climate crisis impacted their area. By contrast, the percentage of people in the Northeast, South and Midwest who said the same hovered around 60 percent, as Science News reported.
Another stark contrast between Republicans and Democrats is in their belief about the cause of the climate crisis. While 96 percent of Democrats said that human activity contributed greatly to the climate crisis, only 14 percent of conservative Republicans thought humans contribute a great deal to the crisis and another 39 percent said 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," said Funk in an email to Vox.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>