Energy & Environment

20 percent in new poll say climate change could force them to leave their homes

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans are concerned that climate change will make it harder for them to remain where they live, according to a poll.

Conducted by USA Today and Ipsos and published Wednesday, the survey highlighted that attitudes toward climate change vary greatly depending on location, extreme weather and political affiliation. 

The poll found 23 percent of respondents said they either strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement that it will get more difficult to stay in the area where they currently live due to climate change. 

More than 2 in 3 Americans (68 percent) also agreed that extreme weather events will become more frequent in the near future, according to the poll results.

The survey also showed that Democrats (31 percent) were more than twice as likely than Republicans (13 percent) to say concerns over climate change could force them to leave their homes.

In the West, which has been hit with wildfire, drought and torrential rains in the past year, 30 percent said they thought it would be difficult to stay in the area. 

Meanwhile, only 13 percent of respondents in the Midwest — a region that has dealt with significantly fewer extreme weather events — said they were worried about staying in their homes. 

The July survey followed a summer of extreme weather incidents ranging from wildfires, air quality due to smoke, hurricanes and heat waves.

Nearly half (49 percent) of those polled said that they had personally experienced extreme weather events in the past month. Within that group, 76 percent said they were either very or somewhat concerned about climate change. 

When it came to reporting extreme weather experiences, a partisan divide was apparent with 57 percent of Democrats saying they had experienced extreme weather recently compared with only 44 percent of Republicans. 

Results from the poll also highlighted increasing fears Americans may have about the future of the planet and the long-lasting impact of climate change.

About 55 percent of Americans said that over the past few years, they’ve grown significantly or somewhat more concerned about the effects of climate change, the survey found. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) said that while humans could slow or reverse those effects, they acknowledged that many Americans weren’t willing to change their behavior to accomplish it.

The survey also found a partisan divide exists when looking at the origins of climate change and extreme weather— and who is to blame.

Roughly 91 percent of Democrats were worried about climate change and its lasting impact, while only 45 percent of Republicans said the same. Nearly 40 percent of Republicans felt that climate change is nonexistent or caused by natural patterns, while 82 percent of Democrats said they think the phenomenon is largely the result of human activity. 

The USA Today/Ipsos poll was conducted July 21-23 among a bipartisan probability sample size of 1,024 adults aged 18 or older. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Tags air quality Climate change drought extreme weather hurricanes wildfires