Eight in 10 Marylanders believe climate change is happening, majority support taking steps to counter potential harm

Press Release

Media Contacts:

Samantha Kappalman
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Jay Apperson
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Eight in 10 Marylanders believe climate change is happening, majority support taking steps to counter potential harm Survey looked at attitudes toward climate change, energy and the environment

BALTIMORE, MD (July 23, 2013) – A large majority of Marylanders say they believe that climate change is happening, and three in four Marylanders support local and state governments taking action to protect communities from harm caused by climate change, a new survey shows.

The survey, conducted by George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication, also found that most Marylanders say climate change has made recent weather events worse and would like to see more of their electricity come from renewable sources such as solar and wind power. A majority also said they supported nearly all of the State policies designed to increase the sustainability of communities that were assessed in the survey.

"Marylanders understand that climate change is real, and that it is already impacting our communities and our families," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "This survey shows that the people of our State are ready to choose clean energy to create green jobs and protect our communities."

"Climate Change & Energy – Public Attitudes, Behaviors & Policy Support" reports the results of surveys of more than 2,000 households to gauge how Marylanders understand the issue of climate change. The survey was designed to provide insights to assist in planning for and achieving a healthier, more sustainable and more economically robust state.

"The survey results show that Marylanders know that climate change is happening, and, even more importantly, that steps should be taken to address the potential harm this brings," said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers. "Marylanders' support for the State's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is essential for their success."

Governor O'Malley will release his final Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan on Thursday, July 25 at the Maryland Climate Change Summit being held at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum. The plan's goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland by 25 percent by 2020.

The results of the George Mason University study that was released today include:

 

  • The large majority of Marylanders say they believe that climate change is happening – 86 percent – compared to a national poll that asked same question during the same period and found that 63 percent of Americans say that global warming is happening.
  • More than three-quarters of Marylanders say that they support their local and state governments taking action to protect their community against harm caused by climate change. Less than 13 percent oppose governmental action.
  • Public awareness of some of the state's major sustainability policies is highly variable – ranging between 16 to 70 percent who say they have heard of the initiatives – but a majority of Marylanders express support for nearly all of the policies assessed in the survey.
  • More than half of state residents say that they would like to see more of their electricity come from renewable sources, such as solar (69 percent) and wind (land-based 62 percent, offshore 59 percent).
  • More than half of our respondents said they feel that their local weather and environment is changing (64 percent) and that the weather is getting worse (51 percent).

"Marylanders are considerably more engaged than Americans at large in the issue of climate change, and more supportive of government actions to deal with it" said Ed Maibach, a co-author of the survey report. "These high levels of citizen engagement will likely prove helpful to the state of Maryland in its efforts to reduce heat-trapping carbon pollution and prepare for consequences that can't be avoided."

To read the full survey report, click here.

Funded by the Town Creek Foundation, the survey was mailed to 6,401 households in the Maryland, randomly selected from within each of four regions. Conducted from March 28 to June 4, the survey had a response rate of 38 percent.

An additional report from this survey – examining Marylanders' perceptions about public health, energy and climate change – was also released this month.

This study was conducted by George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication in partnership with the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to explore Marylanders' views on public health, energy and the environment. The survey was developed at George Mason University, largely based on questions used in the Climate Change in the American Mind national surveys run by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason's Center for Climate Change Communication. Members of the Climate Communication Consortium of Maryland assisted in the development of the survey.

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