Weather-related spikes in energy usage caused a notable increase last year in U.S. pollution rates. In fact, Time Magazine reports that the 3.4 percent overall rise in pollution marks a 20-year high in year-over-year increases.
One of the biggest problems is that new industries are now setting record pollution highs, including a 5.7 percent jump from industrial manufacturing. Transportation experienced its own 1 percent increase, but the most notable spike came from residential buildings. As temperatures continue to skyrocket during the summer, homeowners are turning to their air conditioning units for relief in larger numbers than ever before. In just one year, this boosted residential emissions by 10 percent.
In other words, the effects of climate change are causing people to take steps that ultimately harm the environment even more. This cyclical process has sped up the growth of the nation’s harmful emissions, which have been the major contributor to climate change happening in the first place.
According to NBC News, 57 percent of American adults now believe that anthropogenic, or man-made, climate change is real and needs to be addressed. Another 13 percent believe that climate change is affecting the planet, although they’re not convinced that man-made emissions are behind the problem. In total, 70 percent of U.S. residents see climate change as an issue, and 66 percent of Americans view it as a serious problem that needs immediate action.
The remaining 30 percent of citizens are split between those who think more research is warranted and those who believe there’s no need to be concerned at all. When the same poll questions were asked 20 years ago, 43 percent of Americans didn’t think there was enough scientific data to be concerned about climate change. This year’s responses showcase a big shift in attitudes and opinions regarding climate change.
When different ethnic, residential, and political groups were asked if they believe climate change is a serious issue, all but two agreed. People living in rural, suburban, and urban areas were 57 to 69 percent convinced, respectively. Ethnic groups including African-Americans, whites, and Hispanics also believe, and in larger numbers ranging from 64 to 70 percent.
It’s only when we look at people’s responses based on their political beliefs that we see any groups without a majority of climate change believers. In 1999, 29 percent of Democrats were believers; that number has ballooned to 71 percent during the past 20 years. Another notable increase, although not as big, is seen with independents whose belief shot up from 25 percent to 47 percent.
The only group with no change of opinion at all is Republicans. From 1999 to 2019, only 15 percent of GOP members and supporters have acknowledged scientific data stating that climate change is real, man-made, and a very big problem that threatens to derail humanity’s future.
Despite the majority of Americans believing that immediate action is needed to reduce carbon emissions, political experts say it’s unlikely that any major changes will be made with the current administration. President Trump has notoriously spoken out against climate change, and with only 15 percent of the Republicans in office accepting that it’s a serious issue, there will continue to be minimal bipartisan support to push bills forward that could reduce carbon emissions.