Regionalism affects opinion of climate change

August 20, 2018, 3:30 PM GMT+0

55% of Westerners believe climate change affects the severity of weather events

California and other Western states have seen historic wildfires recently, with the Mendocino complex fire, now the largest ever in California history, burning for nearly three weeks. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, those in the West are particularly worried about climate change and its impact on weather.

More than half the public overall say climate change is happening and is the result of human activity, a figure that continues to rise. But nearly two-thirds of those in Western states believe that. That percentage has jumped seven points in the last two weeks.

Opinions about climate change belief and whether or not humans are responsible for it have a great deal to do with political preferences. 82% of Democrats think climate is occurring and is caused by human activity. Just 35% of Republicans say that. (More than eight in ten Republicans accept the reality of climate change, but most of them don’t think humans have anything to do with it.) Experience matters, too. Both Democrats and Republicans in the West are more likely than those from other regions to believe in human-caused climate change.

Those who believe in human-related climate change are much surer of their beliefs than those who don’t attribute climate change to human activity. 42% of those who see a human impact say they are “absolutely sure” of their belief, compared with 28% of those who doubt the human impact.

Nearly half of Westerners (48%) think of climate change as a “very serious” problem, the highest percentage in any region. Those in the West are also more likely than people in other regions to attribute recent weather-related incidents to climate change.

Two in three Republicans nationally attribute weather incidents to something other than climate change.

Two-thirds overall say they are worried that the United States will be harmed by climate change in the next 50 years. Nearly half of Republicans agree. But many believe some harm has already occurred. Nationally, 58% say that climate change has hurt the country.

Many Americans think President Trump disagrees with them when it comes to climate change. 43% say President Trump does not think climate change is taking place at all, something only 5% nationally believe.

More than half of the majority that believes climate change is the result of human activity think the President doesn’t believe that climate change is occurring at all. Most Republicans, whatever their own opinion about climate change say the President agrees with the position they personally take.

See full toplines and tables results

Image: Getty

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