New poll on climate change says more people are worried about the effects of the earth warming

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A growing number of Americans are worried about climate change and its effects. That’s the word from a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

“What really stuck out for me was the rising share of Americans who say that climate change is important to them as an issue,” says Patrick Ori, the executive director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

About 6 out of 10 Americans believe that the pace of global warming is speeding up.

Other poll results:

54% of American cited scientific voices as having a large amount of influence on their views about climate change

51%, said their views were influenced by recent extreme weather events like hurricanes, deadly heat spells, wildfires and other natural disasters around the world.

59% of Americans said the Earth’s warming is very or extremely important to them as an issue, up from 49% in 2018.

“That 59 percent is a ten point increase in the share of Americans who say this issue is important to them including republicans,” says Ori. “There are two main things, people are increasingly concerned about climate change and the second thing is they support policies to address it.

Ori says about half of those surveyed said they would be willing to pay up to $40 a month in higher energy costs if there were national policies that addressed the issue of promoting clean electric energy. But he says half said they would not be willing to pay more and this divide was along party lines.

The survey did say 75 percent of people do acknowledge that climate change does exist.

“I think that there are signs everywhere that people are waking up to the reality of climate change,” said Karen Grainey from the Center for a Sustainable Coast. “We’ve waited a bit too long to come to that realization and we’ve got to hurry up and make up for lost time.”

“I think our quality of life is in danger and I think sea level rise is probably the biggest danger,” said Grainey.

Grainey says a provision in federal legislation on climate change hinges on passage of the budget reconciliation bill. That provision, the Clean Electricity Performance Program, would finally do something to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that come from power plants, according to Grainey.

“That’s one of the major sources (of emissions) and you know if that were to pass we would get close to reaching the goal of zero emissions pretty quickly,” said Grainey.

But now that provision may be cut because of objections from Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Grainery says those who don’t agree “need to talk to their senators and talk to their congressmen because they don’t have to accept Manchin’s demands, they can make their own demands. I don’t think that this is over-stating that this is our last big chance to do something.”

Grainey says a lot of people have responded to the crisis by thinking it may be enough to just change their personal habits.

“I’m all for that if they can do that and if they can drive less and have solar panels,” she said. “But that’s not enough. We need to have a really solid public policy and really strong policy that will keep industry in check because it’s the industry emissions that are the major source (of the problem) not your household.

Grainey says public policy is the only way we’re going to get emissions reduced enough and the new poll should be one indicator that many more Americans now agree.

“We’ve been delaying decades, kicking the can down the road every time there’s a political hiccup and an inability to get some serious climate legislations passed,” she said. “And we just can’t continue to do it, we’ve run out of time for that.”

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