The majority of Americans are supportive of government efforts to protect people from future wildfire and flood damage through prevention and adaptation policies, new research shows.
More Americans than ever are likely to consider climate change while voting according to "Climate Insights 2020", produced by Resources for the Future (RFF), an independent, nonprofit research institution in Washington, DC.
The percentage of Americans to whom global warming is an “extremely personally important” issue has more than doubled since 2006 to 25 Percent, a strong sign to lawmakers that the public would be supportive of related legislation.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not diminished support for climate change mitigation, with 82 Percent of Americans saying the US government should act. In addition, three in four Americans say they have personally observed effects of climate change.
The researchers, who come from Stanford University, Resources for the Future, and ReconMR, also found that Americans are more driven by care for sociotropic reasoning than self-interest when it comes to public policy.
People of colour are no less supportive of government efforts focused on addressing the effects of wildfires and floods than white, non-Hispanic Americans. In fact, Black and Hispanic Americans were more supportive of such efforts than others. The report suggests this may be because people in marginalised racial and ethnic groups are more likely to live in areas more affected by climate change.
Researchers explored the idea that concern about the environment is a “luxury” that people can only afford if they have taken care of their basic life needs, which is the essence of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. The results of this survey suggest otherwise. Lower income is in fact a predictive marker for more support for government efforts to protect people from destructive wildfires and floods.
The survey also found that informing respondents about the links of fires and floods to climate change increased public support for government action. Respondents who believed in the existence of climate change were also more likely to support new policies.
These findings suggest that increased public education about climate change and the role it plays in intensifying wildfires and floods is likely to result in more support for adaptation efforts.
“We continue to see huge majorities of Americans believing that climate change is real and a threat, and passion about the issue is at an all-time high. No doubt, this issue will weigh heavily in the minds of a substantial number of Americans when they cast their ballots in November,” report co-author and Stanford University professor Jon Krosnick said. “People are more sure than they’ve ever been.”