While it appears the White House is doing its very best to dismantle any climate-related progress made over the last 10 years, concern for the environment amongst the American public is up – according to a 2019 Pew Research survey, the percentage of Americans who believe climate change is a major threat to the well-being of the country is 57 points (up from 40 points in 2013).
But, as the researchers point out, this increase largely stems from those who describe themselves as Democrat or Democrat-leaning (84 percent as of July 2019, compared to 58 percent in March 2013). Opinions among Republicans and Republican-leaning Americans appear to remain relatively stable and statistically insignificant when you consider the 95 percent confidence level (27 percent in 2019 and 22 percent in 2013).
Break down the political ideologies of the respondents even further and the difference is even starker, highlighting just how partisan climate change is as an issue in spite of the fact that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that recent climate-warming patterns are being driven by human activity. The results of the survey suggest that 94 percent of liberal Democrats agree climate change is a major threat. Only 19 percent of conservative Republicans say the same.
That is still 5 percent higher than 2013 (though, again, this might not be statistically significant). While the number of self-described moderate Republicans who agree climate change is a major threat has increased by 9 percent. This trend may be spearheaded by younger Republicans who, according to the 2018 Pew Research survey, are twice as likely as their Baby Boomer counterparts to say global heating is caused by human activity (36 percent versus 18 percent). Millennials were also less likely to back greater use of fossil fuel energy sources than their elders.
When it comes to politics, two-thirds of Democrats (including 83 percent of liberal Democrats) believe tackling global climate change should be a top priority for Congress and the President (up from 46 percent in 2015). Two in 10 (21 percent) of Republicans say the same – a statistically insignificant rise of 2 percentage points from 2015 (19 percent).
How does the rest of the world compare? According to the 2018 Pew Research survey, 67 percent of responders from the 26 countries surveyed say climate change is a major threat. Half of those countries consider it the biggest threat of all threats surveyed.
Among the most concerned are Greece (90 percent), South Korea (86 percent), and France (83 percent). Those least concerned appear to be Russia (43 percent), Nigeria (41 percent), and Israel (38 percent). Of the Australians surveyed, 60 percent say climate change is a major threat. Sixty-six percent of Brits and Canadians say the same.
Back in the US, how does climate change stack up to other threats?
Again, the survey shows there is a clear split along party lines. Climate change is the leading global threat listed by Democrats (84 percent), followed by cyberattacks from other countries (76 percent), and Russia's influence (65 percent). Republicans are most concerned about cyberattacks (72 percent), Iran's nuclear program (65 percent), ISIS (59 percent), and China's power and influence (58 percent).