Broad Climate Change Concern In Florida Linked With Recent Extreme Weather


An increasing number of Floridians agree that human actions are causing climate change, including a record number of Florida Republicans, according to a new survey from Florida Atlantic University. This finding reinforces the trend observed in the prior seven Florida Climate Resilience Surveys, conducted by FAU’s Center for Environmental Studies within the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.  

Three main messages emerge from this latest poll. First, climate change is no longer an effective partisan wedge issue. Virtually all respondents (90 percent) believe climate change is happening, with 65 percent attributing the causes to human actions, including 49 percent of GOP voters. This belief is leading to concern for the future: 61 percent of Floridians are moderately-to-extremely concerned about flooding worsening due to climate change, and 68 percent are moderately-to-extremely concerned about hurricanes worsening due to climate change.

Second, this belief in and concern about human-caused climate change appears to be translating into support for policies to reduce emissions and reduce impacts. For example, a majority of Floridians (52 percent) support a hypothetical $10/month tax to strengthen Florida’s infrastructure to weather hazards. Younger Democrats and Republicans are leading this trend, with 64 percent of GOP or Democratic voters under age 35 in support. In addition, 71 percent of Floridians currently support the teaching of climate change causes and impacts in public K-12 classrooms. Finally, the Aug. 16, 2022 Federal Inflation Reduction Act enjoys broad support (55 percent) in Florida, with only 16 percent opposed. This act includes significant new funding and other incentives to accelerate the transition to a clean economy, especially in electricity generation and transportation fuel.

Third, the explanation for this emerging consensus may be grounded in people’s lived experiences with weather events. The preceding hurricane season included two major storms impacting Florida. Hurricane Ian made landfall on Sept. 23, 2022 in Southwest Florida, and Nicole on Nov. 7, 2022 on Florida’s East coast. According to NOAA, both storms caused significant financial and physical damage, totaling more than $112 billion and an estimated 157 deaths. Approximately three-quarters (77 percent) of Floridians have been exposed to at least one weather hazard in the past 12 months. Almost half of respondents (47 percent) were impacted by flooding in the last 12 months, and an even greater proportion (67 percent) by strong winds from hurricanes or tornadoes.

The survey was conducted in English and Spanish on March 14. The sample consisted of 1,400 Floridians, age 18 and older, with a survey margin of error of +/- 2.62 percentage points. The data were collected using an online panel provided by GreatBlue Research. Responses for the entire sample were weighted to adjust for age, race, income, education and gender, according to the 2020 United States Bureau of the Census American Community Surveys. It is important to remember that subsets carry higher margins of error.

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