Three-quarters of Americans are concerned about global climate change according to the latest national online survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. This remains similar to the same percentage reported in a 2015 survey.
Strikingly, in peninsular Florida, a parallel survey of residents found that 81.3 percent were very concerned or somewhat concerned, a marked increase from last year's poll around the same time when 67 percent felt that way. Those who said they were very concerned jumped sharply from 28 percent last year to 45.9 percent this year. Those who reported they were only somewhat concerned fell to 7.6 percent from 18 percent in 2015, and those who said they were not at all concerned declined this year to 8.3 percent compared to 14 percent last year.
Few people surveyed said they don't believe climate change is occurring: 4.1 percent nationally and 3.7 percent in Florida this year, versus 4 percent nationally and 8 percent in Florida last year.
"I think what these numbers are telling us is that awareness of global climate change is growing," said Leo Ondrovic, PhD, a Saint Leo science faculty member.
Nationally, respondents were significantly more likely to report having observed warmer temperatures, at 57.1 percent, up from 45 percent last year. Of those, 72.4 percent of those polled nationally consider climate change responsible for the warmer temperatures.
The poll also asked whether respondents agree with Pope Francis that protecting the environment is the responsibility of all Christians. And in both years, the results for those strongly or somewhat agreeing were more than 70 percent, nationally and in Florida. The broad agreement exists even though the sample included respondents from multiple religions.
"Pope Francis may be the international figure who leads on this topic," said Ondrovic. Pope Francis released a detailed encyclical (teaching document) on environmental ethics and concerns called Laudato Sí in summer of 2015, and its contents received wide media coverage. The encyclical followed less detailed statements Pope Francis had released before.