The percentage of Americans who are highly concerned about how climate change affects their lives has slipped since 2019, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Monday, as President Joe Biden prepares to sign a sweeping new climate package this week.
Some 35% of U.S. adults are very or extremely concerned about how climate change impacts them personally, down 9% from August 2019, according to the June 2022 survey.
Overall, the share of Americans who are not at all or not very concerned about the impacts of climate change on their lives rose 7% from 2019 to 2022, according to the poll, which surveyed 1053 adults from June 23-27 this year.
Some 45% of adults believe individuals have a responsibility to mitigate climate change, while about two-thirds of Americans think the federal government, developed countries around the world and corporations should take action.
The poll was released two days after the House Friday passed the $437 billion Inflation Reduction Act, an abbreviated version of Biden’s Build Back Better plan that proposes the biggest investments in climate and energy spending in U.S. history.
The poll was released the same day as a report that suggests some 107 million Americans could live under an “extreme heat belt” reaching from Texas to Wisconsin by 2053, according to the nonprofit research group First Street Foundation. A huge swath of residents in middle America could experience heat index temperatures—a combination of humidity and air temperatures—above 125 degrees Fahrenheit, the report projected. It found the sharpest rise in heat could take place in Miami-Dade County, Florida, where the nonprofit estimated the number of days with heat index temperatures of 103 degrees could increase from seven days to 34 days in 30 years.
Despite a falling share of Americans expressing concerns about climate change, the number of Americans searching the internet for information on extreme weather events has peaked this year, according to recent U.S. Google Trends data. Searches of the phrase “heat wave,” for instance, have peaked higher every summer over the past five years, with the exception of 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Extreme weather events have plagued the United States and many other countries this summer, including in Europe, with nations experiencing droughts, floods and heat waves, among other weather catastrophes. The United Nations has warned countries must act now or never to curb carbon emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. The federal government moved to take action last week when Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act. Democrats used the budget reconciliation process to get around the 60-vote threshold needed to close debate under the filibuster rule to pass the legislation, after Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) reached an agreement on a package last month. The bill is a scaled-back version of the Biden administration’s original climate proposals, but still includes $369 billion in spending on climate and energy programs to help the country cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.
AP-NORC poll: Many in US doubt their own impact on climate (Associated Press)
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