Climate change has always been a divisive topic for Americans. But new surveys suggest that awareness of climate change is growing, at least a little bit. For the first time, the vast majority of Americans accept that climate change is happening, which means perhaps we can finally start to do something about it.
The results come from a pair of surveys, one conducted by Yale and George Mason University and the other by the Associated Press and University of Chicago. According to the Yale survey, 73 percent of Americans accept that climate change is happening, and over half are very sure about that fact. This is the highest that number has ever been, up from 63 percent in 2015.
There’s other good news for climate awareness in the Yale survey, as well. The study shows 62 percent of Americans understand that climate change is mostly human-caused, and around half of Americans believe they or their loves ones will be impacted by upcoming climate changes. Despite the dangers, only 14 percent believe it’s too late to do something to stop it.
However, just because more people have started to believe climate change is happening and that something can be done, it doesn’t seem to mean that they’re personally willing to do anything. That’s the subject of the AP survey, which asked participants what, if anything, they would be willing to sacrifice to avert climate change.
Surprisingly, a majority of Americans would be willing to sacrifice something to help stop climate change. Over half of Americans would be willing to pay $1 a month, and a quarter would be willing to pay as much as $40 a month to fight climate change. Almost half also support a carbon tax, and more than half support that tax if the money went to an environmental cause or renewable energy research.
This is great, but these numbers don’t match the increase in acceptance of climate change. These numbers haven’t changed much over the past few years, which means that most of the people who’ve recently been convinced that climate change is real aren’t willing to do anything much about it.
But still, there’s hope. People understand that climate change is real, at a level they never have before. That likely means they’re more open to learning of ways they can help minimize its effects. Perhaps what we need now is a new conversation, not about whether climate change is real, but about what we can do together to stop it.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics