Poll: Americans from all walks of life share concerns about climate change

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Washington

President Joe Biden heads to vital United Nations climate summit at a time when a majority of Americans see climate change as a problem of great importance to them, an increase from just a few years ago .

About 6 in 10 Americans also believe the pace of global warming is accelerating, according to a new survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

As Mr Biden strives to pass important climate legislation at his home ahead of next week’s UN climate summit, the new AP-NORC / EPIC poll also shows that 55% of Americans want Congress Passes a bill to ensure that more of the country’s electricity comes from clean energy and less from climate-damaging coal and natural gas.

Only 16% of Americans oppose such a measure for electricity from cleaner energy. A similar measure was initially one of the most important parts of the climate legislation that Mr Biden presented to Congress. But Mr Biden’s proposal to reward utilities with clean energy sources and penalize those who do not have met objections from a state coal senator, Democrat Joe Manchin. of West Virginia, leaving fellow Democrats to scramble to find other ways to reduce pollution from fossil fuel combustion. .

For some of the Americans watching, it’s an exasperating delay in dealing with an urgent problem.

“If you follow the science, the signs are there,” said Nancy Reilly, a Democrat from Missouri who retired after 40 years as a retail manager, and worries about her children as the climate deteriorates. “It’s already there. And what was the first thing they started to water down to get this bill through? Climate change.”

“It’s just maddening,” Ms. Reilly said. “I understand why, I understand it – I understand the policy. I’m sick of politics.

After former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, the Biden administration hoped to help negotiate deep global emission cuts to slow rising temperatures. But it’s unclear whether Mr Biden will be able to get meaningful climate legislation through Congress before the UN summit begins on Sunday.

In total, 59% of Americans said global warming was a very or extremely important issue to them, up from 49% in 2018. Fifty-four percent of Americans cited the voice of scientists as having a big influence on their views on climate change, and almost as many, 51%, said their views were influenced by recent extreme weather events such as hurricanes, deadly heat waves, wildfires and other natural disasters in the world.

Over the past 60 years, pollution pumped by gasoline and diesel engines, power plants and other sources has altered the climate and warmed the Earth by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit, making extreme weather conditions more severe.

In the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, leaf voyeur websites are warning fall foliage tourists this year that leaves take days longer than normal to turn from green to orange and red. ardent. This is not proof of climate change as a single example, but it is typical of the changes Americans are seeing as the Earth warms.

“Normally you get the four seasons, fall, spring, and winter, and it goes that way. But lately it hasn’t, ”said Jeremy Wilson, who votes independently and works on the grounds of a scenic chairlift park that takes people to the top of the Smoky Mountains. “It was either warmer or colder. “

Seventy-five percent of Americans think climate change is happening, while 10% think it’s not, according to the poll. Another 15% is not sure.

Of those who say it happens, 54% say it is caused primarily or entirely by human activities, compared with only 14% who think – wrongly, say scientists – that it is caused primarily by natural changes in the body. the environment. Another 32% of Americans believe it is a mix of human and natural factors.

And while Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say climate change is happening, the majority of both sides agree it is. That breaks down to 89% Democrats and 57% Republicans.

The poll also assessed Americans’ willingness to pay for the cost of reducing climate pollution as well as mitigating its consequences.

Fifty-two percent said they would support a $ 1 per month carbon levy on their energy bill to tackle climate change, but support declines as the levy increases.

“I would say, like, $ 5.10, as long as it’s really used for what it should be,” said Krystal Chivington, a Delaware Republican who credits her 17-year-old daughter with reviving his own passion for combat. climate change and pollution.

It’s not ordinary consumers who should pay to avoid the worst-case scenarios of climate change, said Mark Sembach, a Democrat from Montana who works in environmental remediation.

“I think that has to fall a lot on responsible companies – and unfortunately … most companies are not responsible,” Sembach said. “And I think there has to be a lot of hindsight as to who is ultimately paying for this.”

This story was reported by The Associated Press. The AP-NORC survey of 5,468 adults was conducted from September 8 to 24. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.


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