Health Is A Major Motivator for American Climate Action
Last fall, several national and international academies issued reports on the impacts of climate change, including on human health. From the IPCC to NCA, WHO and Lancet reports, the impacts on health were found to be more severe and pervasive than previously thought. But are Americans making the health and climate connection? Are they seeing the impacts of climate on their personal or families’ health? Do they understand that climate solutions benefit their health and wellbeing?
In support of National Public Health Week, a weeklong event that is devoting a day to climate and health, ecoAmerica and Lake Research Partners explored American awareness and understanding on the topic. The results show promise. Americans report health impacts from climate, see the health benefit of solutions, trust health professionals on the issue, and see action as a moral imperative. In short, they find health is a major motivator for American climate action.
Over Half of Americans Report Experiencing Health Impacts from Climate Change
ecoAmerica asked Americans whether they have been affected by a variety of climate impacts. A majority (60%) report being affected by record heat waves during summer, which can cause heat strokes and dehydration. About half (49%) report being affected by more damage and harm from extreme weather. And, nearly half (45%) report being affected by breathing problems, such as asthma. No longer an abstract issue, the results show that climate change is getting personal, impacting American health and wellbeing.
For each of the following issues, please indicate how much they are personally affecting you: 800 respondent(s) total nationally, % “A lot” and “Some”
Americans Believe that Creating a Safe and Healthy Climate is a Moral Imperative
Nearly 9 in 10 Americans believe that we have a moral responsibility to create a safe and healthy climate for ourselves and our children. 71% believe this more intensely (marking ‘strongly agree’ in their selection), an intensity level that is up 7-points from 64% in 2015.
Please indicate if you agree or disagree: We have a moral responsibility to create a safe and healthy climate for ourselves and our children. 400 respondents total nationally, % “Strongly agree” and “Not so strongly agree”
Two in Three Americans Understand that Climate Solutions Benefit Their Health
Americans are not hearing nearly enough how climate solutions benefit them personally. Not only do solutions benefit our economy and bring jobs, but importantly, they also benefit our health.
Americans are beginning to understand this. ecoAmerica found that a majority (66%) of Americans believe that if the U.S. took steps to prevent climate change, it would improve their health.
Another 9% of Americans are not sure whether climate solutions would benefit or harm their health, and 23% more believe it would make no difference. The climate movement has an urgent opportunity to demonstrate and communicate about how clean energy and other climate solutions protect and enhance personal and public health.
Americans Trust Health Professionals for Information and Guidance on Climate Change
ecoAmerica asked Americans who they trust for information and guidance on climate change. While scientists took the top spot, health professionals also placed at the top of the list.
Nearly two thirds of Americans trust health professionals on climate change, for both information and guidance on the issue.
Interestingly, only 19% of Americans report recently hearing about climate change from health professionals. These results show that health professionals are uniquely situated to be effective climate messengers, and help move the needle on an issue that is harming a majority of Americans.
Key Demographics: Most Americans Resonate with Health, Some More than Others
While the impacts of climate on health, benefits of solutions, and information and guidance of health professionals resonate with a majority of Americans, certain demographic groups, namely African Americans, Latinos, Women Over 50, and Millennials, show even higher levels of saliency. These groups report higher levels of health impacts from climate change and awareness of the health benefits of climate solutions.
For each of the following, please indicate how much they are personally you: 800 respondents nationally, % “A lot” and “Some”
If the U.S. took steps to help prevent climate change, how would it affect your health? 800 respondents nationally, % “A lot” and “A little”
Full data is available in the accompanying toplines.
ecoAmerica and Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey, which was conducted online September 14-18th, 2018. The survey yielded a total of 800 adult responses. The sample was drawn from an online panel and the respondents were screened to ensure that they were over the age of 18. The national sample was weighted slightly by region, age, race, and education. The margin of error for the sample is +/-3.5%. In interpreting the survey results, it is important to note that all sample surveys are subject to possible sampling error. Thus, the results of a survey may differ from the results that would be obtained if the entire population was interviewed. The size of the sampling error depends upon both the total number of respondents in the survey and the percentage distribution of the responses to a particular question. For example, if 50% of the respondents in a sample of 802 respondents answered, “Yes” to a particular question, we can be 95% confident that the true percentage would fall within 3.5 points, or range from 46.5% to 53.5%.
Speiser, M., Kobayashi, N., Gutierrez, M., Lake, C., and Voss, J. (2019). American Climate Perspectives Survey 2019, Vol III: Health Is A Major Motivator for American Climate Action. ecoAmerica and Lake Research Partners. Washington, DC.
© 2019 ecoAmerica. The contents of this report may be shared and used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
For more information contact us at research@ecoAmerica.org
Subscribe to receive ecoAmerica’s research in your inbox