Two-thirds of Floridians Concerned About Climate Change
More than two-thirds of Floridians say that climate change has them concerned about the well-being of future generations in Florida and do not feel government is doing enough to address its impacts, according to the first-ever Florida Climate Resilience Survey conducted by the Florida Atlantic University Center for Environmental Studies(CES) in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, and the Business and Economics Polling Initiative (BEPI) in FAU’s College of Business.
The statewide survey, which will be conducted on a quarterly basis, shows that 68 percent of Floridians either agree or strongly agree that climate change has them concerned about the well-being of future generations in Florida. Only 28 percent said that Florida’s government (state, county and municipal) is already doing enough to address the impacts of climate change. A majority of respondents support future solar energy production in Florida (51 percent) and favor teaching climate change causes, consequences and solutions in Florida K-12 classrooms (68 percent). Nearly half of the respondents (47 percent) are willing to pay $10 per month to strengthen Florida’s infrastructure (such as bridges, roads, stormwater systems) to weather hazards.
“Florida’s prosperity is strongly influenced by its climate,” said Colin Polsky, Ph.D., director of the FAU Center for Environmental Studies and lead author of the study. “Our warm temperatures and abundant rainfall support our top-tier tourism, agriculture and other industries. But our weather patterns also present Floridians with risks, such as flooding and high winds. Today, the prospect of climate change adds to our risk profile in ways we are only starting to understand. The results from this first quarterly statewide survey paint a picture of how resilient Floridians are to the climate risks we face.”
More than half of Floridians (56 percent) state that climate change is real and that it is largely caused by human activity, including 44 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of Independents and 70 percent of Democrats. Younger Floridians ages 18-49 are more likely to concur with the scientific consensus on climate change and its attribution to human activities (60 percent) than those ages 50-64 and 65 and over (51 and 52 percent, respectively).
“Since the early 1990s, the climate change question at the national-level has become increasingly polarized along party lines,” Polsky said. “Yet in recent years a growing number of states and cities have taken meaningful actions to recognize, study, and address climate change. These actions are largely consolidated in blue-leaning states, unlike Florida, and the national-level discourse remains polarized along partisan lines.”
Nearly 6 in 10 Floridians (59 percent) believe their household to be well-prepared for climate hazards, with survival supplies such as food, water, power generator, phone charger and radio. However, most Floridians are moderately or extremely concerned about hurricanes becoming stronger or more frequent (65 percent), temperatures rising (61 percent) and rising sea levels (59 percent).
The business community is viewed by a large swath of the electorate (45 percent) as the group who will, through innovation and entrepreneurship, lead Floridians to successfully adapt to weather hazards.
“In my experience in southeast Florida for the past five years, the private sector leaders are, regardless of party affiliation, not only actively concerned about challenges linked with our changing climate, but also committed to meaningful actions,” Polsky said. “They’re even getting impatient. Now through this survey, we may be seeing similar support statewide for climate solutions grounded in innovation and entrepreneurship.”
The survey was conducted in both English and Spanish from Oct. 1-15. The sample consisted of 1,045 Floridians, 18 years of age and older, with a margin of error (credibility interval) of +/- 3.5 percent. The data was collected using an online panel provided by Dynata. Responses for the entire sample were weighted to adjust for gender, race, income, education and region according to recent U.S. Bureau of the Census data. It is important to remember that subsets carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. For more information, survey results, and full cross-tabulations, visit www.ces.fau.edu/ces-bepi/ or contact Colin Polsky, Ph.D., at firstname.lastname@example.org.