Ø Democrats express more concern about climate change
Ø Nearly one-half of Americans say global climate change is caused by a combination of human activity and nature
Ø Support for canceling the Keystone Pipeline plummets from 2021
ST. LEO, FL – Americans are less concerned about global climate change and the environment now than in previous years, a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey shows with the latest poll displaying the lowest level of concern in six years of polling data.
Polling was conducted online February 28 through March 12, among 1,000 total respondents nationally. The resulting margin of error for the results is 3.0 percentage points in either direction. In Florida, where Saint Leo University’s residential campus is located, 500 additional people were polled. The margin of error for the responses is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
Concern about climate change nationally is 70.2 percent; in 2021, 72.2 percent said they were worried, and in previous years, the polling showed 73.3 percent were concerned in 2020, 71.3 percent in 2019, 74.4 percent in 2018, and 75.1 percent in 2017.
In Florida, the latest polling shows 72.6 percent say they are concerned about climate change and the environment. Previous polls reported concern at 75 percent in 2021, 75.9 percent in 2020, 68.6 percent in 2019, 74.4 percent in 2018, and 75.5 percent in 2017.
Concern is greater among those who are Democratic—at 89.7 percent, with Republicans at 54.6 percent, and independents at 68.2 percent. Among those who self-identified as liberal, concern is 92.1 percent, while for moderates, concern measures 74.3 percent and for conservatives, it is 53.5 percent. Senior respondents in the national poll express the most concern at 75.4 percent in the 65 and older age group, while 74.9 percent in the 18-44 age group, and 64.1 percent of those ages 45 to 64 say they are concerned about climate change.
“I wonder how much of this result is tied to people feeling like they, themselves, are doing more to help the environment, so maybe it’s not in as much trouble as it once was [it still is],” said Dr. Cheryl Kozina, associate professor of biology, who examined the polling results. “With more people telecommuting, reducing their commutes [either not commuting at all or limiting the days that they commute to the office], I could imagine that many people believe that we are doing more now for the environment than we once were. While true, this is just a small step in the right direction. Human contributions to climate change cannot be ignored: agriculture, deforestation, and most importantly, the use [overuse] of fossil fuels in industry and transportation.”
Cause and Effect
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute provided respondents with four statements related to the cause of climate change and asked which statements best reflect their beliefs.
Results are displayed in the following table:
|Views on Global Climate Change||National February 2019 – %||National February 2020 – %||National February 2021 – %||National March 2022 – %||Florida February 2019 – %||Florida February 2020 – %||Florida February 2021 – %||Florida March 2022 – %|
|Global climate change is caused entirely by human activity||21.5||25.2||25.6||25.4||21.4||26.9||27.8||29.8|
|Global climate change is caused entirely by nature||11.5||11.3||12.1||11.2||13.4||12.9||13.2||12.6|
|Global climate change is caused by a combination of human activity and nature||54.8||52.4||52.8||48.9||52.2||51.8||49.6||46.2|
|I don’t believe global climate change is occurring||6.1||5.9||6.0||7.8||7.4||5.2||6.0||6.8|
|Don’t know / unsure||6.1||5.2||3.5||6.7||5.6||3.2||3.4||4.6|
Nearly one-half of all respondents nationally, 48.9 percent, suggest global climate change is caused by a combination of human activity and nature. Another 25.4 percent and 11.2 percent suggest it is caused entirely by human activity and entirely by nature, respectively.
Of the 48.9 percent who say climate change is caused by human activity and nature, the responses are fairly even among political party lines with 44.6 percent of those who are Republicans, 46.3 percent of those who are Democrats, and 52.7 percent of those who are independent saying it’s humans and nature. However, in Florida polling, a difference among party lines is shown. Out of the 46.2 percent of Florida respondents saying climate change is a result of human activity and nature, 48.4 percent of Republican respondents, 39.5 percent of Democratic respondents, and 53.9 percent of independent respondents agree.
By age groups among Florida respondents, the youngest respondents, 36.2 percent of those ages 18-44, say climate change is a result of a combination of human activity and nature, while 51.3 percent of those ages 45-64, and 57.1 percent of those ages 65 and older, agree. In national polling, of the 48.9 percent who say climate change is caused by people and nature, 40 percent of those 18-44, 52.4 percent of those 45-64, and 66.2 percent of those 65 and older agree.
The poll also asked respondents to indicate if they saw each of the following occurring in their state or region. Multiple responses were accepted. Results are presented in declining order based on March 2022 national results.
|Do You See Any of the Following Occurring in your State or Region?||National February 2019 – %||National February 2020 – %||National February 2021 – %||National March 2022 – %||Florida February 2019 – %||Florida February 2020 – %||Florida February 2021 – %||Florida March 2022 – %|
|Unusually severe weather and/or storms||39.2||32.8||28.1||30.6||38.8||35.1||34.6||23.2|
|Worsened air quality||22.3||22.7||23.5||22.1||14.8||17.1||19.6||14.0|
|Worsened drought conditions||19.7||19.2||24.5||20.5||14.8||14.0||16.4||14.4|
|Ocean rising or seacoast flooding||15.1||15.9||16.3||13.5||37.6||41.6||36.8||26.8|
|Loss or threatened loss of habitats||15.6||15.2||14.9||8.7||23.2||24.6||21.4||14.6|
|Loss or threatened loss of species||13.6||14.4||13.2||8.5||24.4||24.8||22.4||12.0|
|Increased polar oscillations (also called polar vortex or displaced polar air)||16.1||9.9||11.5||7.6||5.8||5.6||6.6||3.8|
Respondents also were asked if they thought climate change was very or somewhat responsible for the conditions listed in the above table, and 59 percent of national respondents and 58.2 percent of Florida poll respondents say warmer temperatures are a result of climate change, which was a significant decrease from previous polling. In 2021, 71.2 percent nationally and 72 percent of Floridians polled said climate change brought about warmer temperatures.
The poll included an opportunity for respondents to identify how responsible global climate change was for environmental events. For each of the following, respondents were asked if global climate change was very responsible, somewhat responsible, not very responsible or not at all responsible. The table holds the cumulative totals for those suggesting global climate change was very or somewhat responsible for each environmental event. Results are displayed in declining order by national March 2022 results.
|Responsibility for Global Climate Change?||National February 2019 – %||National February 2020 – %||National February 2021 – %||National March 2022 – %||Florida February 2019 – %||Florida February 2020 – %||Florida February 2021- %||Florida March 2022 – %|
|Unusually severe weather / storms||63.8||63.7||67.6||51.4||62.4||68.4||65.2||47.6|
|Ocean rising or seacoast flooding||66.9||68.8||70.5||46.7||67.2||73.3||73.0||48.0|
|Worsened drought conditions||61.9||64.7||67.5||44.7||58.4||65.8||62.6||40.6|
|Worsened air quality||56.8||58.2||63.5||40.6||53.0||59.2||61.4||38.6|
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