LIU poll: Climate change is real, and it’s not too late

Worlds apart: Actually, despite the president's pronouncements, a vast majority of Americans believe climate change is real, according to LIU's Hornstein Center for Policy, Polling and Analysis.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Great swaths of the country may still register as “the base,” but a vast majority of Americans break from President Donald Trump on the key topic of climate change.

That according to Brookville-based Long Island University, which this week released a new Hornstein Center poll showing nearly 80 percent of Americans are climate-change believers.

Not only that, but the poll shows that more than three-quarters of Americans believe humans have contributed to the climate-change crisis, and that most disagree with Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, an accord under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiated by 195 countries and adopted by consensus in 2015.

The Steven S. Hornstein Center for Policy, Polling and Analysis conducted the poll on Oct. 29 and 30, quizzing (in English) 1,039 American adults over the age of 18. Among the questions: Do you think that there is evidence of a change in the global climate? and If there is a change in the global climate, do you think we can halt and remedy its effects?

The results tipped significantly away from Trump’s position – the president continues to trumpet coal and other fossil fuels while calling climate-change “a hoax” – and squarely toward science.

Some 79.69 percent of respondents said they believe evidence of global climate change, while 77.48 percent said they think humans have contributed to it.

Stanley Klein: On the bright side.

Only 23.2 percent agreed with the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement (40.52 percent disagreed and more than 27 percent were “unsure”), while more than half of respondents – 53.42 percent – saw climate change as a national security threat.

An optimistic 55.34 percent said they believed climate change could be halted and reversed, with more than 42 percent championing the development of alternative fuels.

Despite the poll’s one-sided findings, climate change remains a hotly debated issue across the country, as evidenced by the November midterm elections.

Across the nation, five of seven “significant statewide initiatives” to combat the effects of climate change were defeated in last month’s vote, as counted by the Hornstein Center, including proposals for a Washington State “carbon fee” and a plan to require that half of Arizona’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030 – identical to a key component of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy for New York.

But the poll suggests there’s still hope, according to Hornstein Center Director Stanley Klein, who sees the results as “a signal to our leaders that there is a real desire to research and implement alternatives before it is too late.”

“It is not surprising that an overwhelming majority of the respondents believe the climate is changing and that we are, at least partially, responsible for this,” Klein added. “It is the positivity of the respondents, most of who believe we can still stop and undo what has already happened, that is the most striking result of the poll.”