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Americans Remain Extremely Concerned About Climate Change, Heatmap Poll Finds

Seventy percent of Americans call it a serious problem.

A poll and clean energy.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Americans remain immensely concerned about climate change, with 70% calling it a serious problem and over one in three saying they are extremely concerned about the issue, Heatmap’s second Climate Poll has found, echoing results from its first survey last winter.

Conducted in mid-November by Benenson Strategy Group, the second poll explored both how Americans’ perceptions of climate change have shifted since Heatmap’s inaugural survey in February and also expanded to touch on questions about individuals’ personal experiences with climate change, their concerns about the future, their knowledge about climate issues and their attitudes on solutions, and how the issue is factoring into their 2024 presidential election decisions.

Encouragingly, the vast majority of Americans (68%) agree with the scientific consensus that climate change is a result of human activity, including almost half (48%) of Republicans and many (44%) former Trump voters.

However, most people do not think that things are moving in the right direction: 46% of respondents said they are “increasingly pessimistic” about climate change, while only a quarter said they think things are looking up.

While extreme heat, historic smoke, flooding, rapidly intensifying hurricanes, and the deadliest wildfire in modern history made headlines throughout 2023, Americans reported a slight decline from last winter in their feelings of being personally affected by climate change: 44% said they were “very” or “somewhat” affected, down 6 points since the Heatmap Climate Poll was last conducted 10 months ago. The highest numbers came from respondents in the West, about half (49%) of whom said they’d experienced climate change personally, and the lowest numbers were in the Midwest, with 37% who said they’d been affected.

However, that has not affected Americans’ sense of urgency or concern about future weather impacts on their communities. Of the extreme weather scenarios that Heatmap asked about — tornadoes, extreme thunderstorms, hurricanes, wildfires, drought, flooding, extreme heat, and blizzards — a majority of Americans said they had concerns about the climate impacting the place they live. The lowest level of reported anxiety was over hurricanes (57%), which makes sense given that the impacts are heavily (albeit, sometimes surprisingly) regional.

These concerns played into Americans’ thoughts about the future more generally as well. Nearly three-quarters of parents (72%) reported having high levels of concern about the climate, with dads slightly more worried (77%) than moms (68%).

More than one in 10 Americans (12%) are worried that insurance companies are leaving their area. Almost one in five Americans (19%) say they’ve already seen their insurance rates increase due to weather extremes, and eight in 10 Americans say they want the government to require insurance companies to continue offering insurance in areas that are affected by climate change.

Most respondents said they are taking personal action on some level, whether it’s recycling (70%), carrying a reusable water bottle (62%), or driving or hoping to drive an EV in the future (46%). Even among people who voted in 2020 for Trump — no fan of electric vehicles — 30% said they drive or would like to drive an electric car in the future.

When it comes to solutions, though, Americans are more divided on the best approach. There’s uncertainty around the green energy transition, with 38% of respondents worried it will cost them money, 35% believing it will save them money, and 27% unsure. Proposals like providing tax incentives to make homes more energy efficient; making it easier to build new solar plants; investing in public transportation; and funding scientific studies to explore ways of reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere are widely popular, though, with all receiving over 80% support by respondents.

However, Americans who currently drive, or are interested in buying, an EV largely said that fuel savings (73%) were a bigger incentive to them than the benefits for the climate (63%). Starkly, Americans are also not sold on the phase-out of fossil fuels: 62% said they support making it easier to drill and build new pipelines, including 51% of Democrats and 59% of Independents.

What does the picture painted by the Heatmap poll mean for the 2024 election? There is a clear bipartisan interest in climate change, with 68% of Americans saying a candidate’s position on climate change is important in determining their presidential vote, including 86% of Democrats, 53% of Republicans, and 62% of Independents. Additionally, nearly one in seven (69%) Americans said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate that led an initiative to plant millions of trees to remove carbon from the atmosphere — a popular, albeit dubious, Republican climate proposal that 80% of Democrats said they could get behind.

Heatmap will continue to offer further analysis of the survey’s results in the coming days, including closer looks at Americans’ understandings of climate lingo, how they are influenced by common land development arguments, and more.

The Heatmap Climate Poll of 1,000 American adults was conducted by Benenson Strategy Group via online panels from Nov. 6 to 13, 2023. The survey included interviews with Americans in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Jeva Lange profile image

Jeva Lange

Jeva is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Her writing has also appeared in The Week, where she formerly served as executive editor and culture critic, as well as in The New York Daily News, Vice, and Gothamist, among others. Jeva lives in New York City.


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