New survey has disturbing signs for public opinion on climate change

New survey has disturbing signs for public opinion on climate change

The 2021 summer has brought one disaster after another, from droughts, wildfires and heatwaves in the western United States to record flooding in Germany. But despite all these disasters, a new Morning Consult poll finds that the number of Americans who are "very concerned" about climate change has not increased significantly in recent months.

Morning Consult's Lisa Martine Jenkins reports, "Since May, the share of adults who say they are 'very concerned' about climate change has fluctuated between 38% and 42%. In September 2020, 48% of U.S. adults said they were 'very concerned' about the impact of climate change on the environment, and 39% said the same of its impact on the economy. The share who say they are 'very concerned' about the impact of natural disasters on their own communities has hovered between 32% and 39% over the course of the summer."

This week, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report showing the climate change's disastrous effects. Describing the report as "bleak, if unsurprising," Jenkins notes that the report found "that found 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming in the coming decades is all but locked in."

"The steps are clear: To reach net-zero emissions by 2050, fossil fuel use must be curtailed as promptly as possible, though removing carbon from the atmosphere will likely be necessary to mitigate the emissions that remain," Jenkins explains. "A collective sense of urgency is key. But Morning Consult data shows that alarm over climate change and natural disasters among the U.S. public has not increased as the threats become more tangible. Weekly surveys conducted from late May through early August show that the share of adults who say they are 'very concerned' about climate change has largely stagnated, fluctuating between 38% and 42%. The margin of error for the polls is 2 percentage points."

Jenkins adds, "Similarly, the group that says they are 'not concerned at all' has hovered between 10 percent and 14%. Roughly a third of adults say they are 'somewhat' concerned and just over 1 in 10 say they are 'not very concerned.'"

Not surprisingly, Morning Consult found that Democrats are more worried about climate change than Republicans.

"The share of Democrats who are very concerned about climate change has settled in the range of 57 to 66% since May, while that of Republicans has remained between 16 and 22% over the same period," Jenkins notes.

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