New Research from ecoAmerica: Health Surpasses Jobs in Climate Action Support

By Nicole Hill, MPH

ecoAmerica’s latest survey finds “health” at the top of the list of motivations for climate solutions — raking even higher than “jobs”. Twelve months of battling the COVID-19 pandemic may be influencing perspectives, however, the reality is that climate change is already impacting Americans’ health as air pollution, heat waves, and extreme weather events become more severe.

Concern about climate change is on the rise, and so is trust in health professionals as sources of climate change information. The majority of Americans are making the climate and health connection. They choose “protecting personal and public health” as their top motivation for supporting climate solutions and understand that solutions come with health benefits. There is widespread agreement that we have a moral responsibility to create a safe and healthy future. However, there is still work for climate and health advocates to do, as the findings show.

Health Ranked Top Motivator in Support for Climate Solutions

ecoAmerica’s research shows that protecting personal and public health is the top reason Americans select for supporting climate solutions. Health (76%) even led jobs, with 71% of Americans saying they would support climate solutions if they increased good paying jobs in the US, a five point variance. Roughly half cite strengthening community resilience or advancing justice and equity as motivations for supporting solutions.

Increasing Trust in Health Professionals on Climate

ecoAmerica’s research found a more than ten point rise in trust in health professionals as a source of climate change information.

In 2015, 57% of Americans said they trusted health professionals for information on climate change. In 2018 that number grew by 7 points, to 64%. And, in 2021, 68% of Americans say they trust health professionals accordingly. These results position health professionals as important communicators of climate change information.

More Americans Are Very Concerned About Climate Change

The majority (72%) of Americans say they are concerned about climate change. And, since 2015, the percentage of Americans who say they are “very concerned” has grown. In 2021, 46% say they are “very concerned”, compared to 30% in 2015, a 16 percentage point increase.

High Majorities Agree We Have a Moral Responsibility for a Safe and Healthy Environment

An even higher majority (85%) say we have a moral responsibility to create a safe and healthy environment for ourselves and our children. Americans of varying political affiliations, age groups, and genders agree.

Climate Solutions, Health Benefits: Who’s Making the Connection?

While the majority (64%) of Americans understand that climate solutions benefit their health, there are differences in this understanding by age range. ecoAmerica asked respondents how they believed their health would be impacted if the US took steps to prevent climate change. More than other groups, younger Americans between 18-29 years of age are aware (72%) that climate solutions benefit their health. This is 8 percentage points higher than the national average. Only 56% of Americans over 60 are making this connection.

Full data is available in the accompanying toplines.

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Methodology

ecoAmerica designed and administered this survey, which was conducted online on February 8-11, 2021 using Survey Monkey. The survey yielded a total of 1,029 complete adult responses. The sample was drawn from an online panel and the respondents were screened to ensure that they were over the age of 18. The margin of error for the sample is +/-3%. In interpreting the survey results, it is important to note that all sample surveys are subject to possible sampling error. Thus, the results of a survey may differ from the results that would be obtained if the entire population was interviewed. The size of the sampling error depends upon both the total number of respondents in the survey and the percentage distribution of the responses to a particular question. For example, if 50% of the respondents in a sample of 1,029 respondents answered, “Yes” to a particular question, we can be 95% confident that the true percentage would fall within 3 points, or range from 47% to 53%.

Suggested Citation

Speiser, M., Hill, A. (March 2021). American Climate Perspectives Survey 2021. Health Surpasses Jobs in Climate Action Support. ecoAmerica. Washington, DC.

© 2021 ecoAmerica.  The contents of this report may be shared and used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

For more information contact us at research@ecoAmerica.org

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