New Survey Shows Majority Of Americans Are Still Concerned About Climate Change

Live spruce and dead spruce, which change color due to the persistent dry weather and elevated temperatures, in the Harz mountain region
Jens Schlueter / Getty Images

A new report released on Tuesday showed that 66 percent of Americans are worried about climate change, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues, according to a report written by researchers at George Mason and Yale Universities and was released by a group called Climate Change in the American Mind.

The report found that 73 percent of Americans agree that global warming is occurring. This number is at an all-time high. While 66 percent of Americans surveyed said they were “somewhat” concerned about climate change, 26 percent of respondents said they were “very worried.”

The report also reflected changes in the way Americans think about the causes of climate change. Almost two-thirds of survey respondents — 62 percent — agreed that climate change is mostly a result of human actions, which ties the record-high for this question. Only 29 percent of Americans surveyed said that they believe climate change is the result of natural environmental changes.

Researchers responsible for the survey said that before they received the results, they were expecting levels of concern over climate change to be drastically reduced, per the report. They thought that the coronavirus pandemic would push concerns about climate change to the back burner. However, the results made it clear that climate change is still a priority in American minds.

The survey was conducted in mid-April, when most of the country was under some variation of a stay-at-home order. More than 1,000 people responded to the survey.

Climate change has actually been an active part of the wider American conversation during the coronavirus crisis, according to CNBC. With so many Americans changing their daily behaviors as a result of the pandemic, noticeable changes in local environments have occurred.

A company called HyperGiant developed an interactive tool that allows users to explore how behavior changes resulting from the pandemic have changed the environment. CNBC reported that the tool showed a 50 percent decrease in air traffic and a 15 percent decrease in meat consumption as a result of people working from home, which has led to a significant decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

CNBC reported that the founders of HyperGiant created the tool to help combat some of the myths that were starting to spread around social media about climate change during the pandemic. With more people working from home than ever, pictures of smog reduction and anecdotal reports of greenhouse gas reduction started floating around social media. The narrative that started to form was that when humans stay home and industries shut down, the climate heals.

HyperGiant founders said that, while it’s true working from home and shutting down the economy is having an impact on the environment, they wanted to help people understand exactly how certain behaviors impact the environment, according to CNBC.

They stressed to CNBC that working from home and shutting down industry is not some miracle cure for climate change. They emphasized that truly addressing climate change takes a lot more action than the pandemic has forced on the country and that as soon as the economy restarts, any progress from the pandemic behavior changes would be lost.