While political affiliation still significantly dictates the average American’s perception of climate impacts, the experience of living on or near a coast is making people more aware of the effects of global warming, regardless of political stripe, reports the Pew Research Center. And millennials are the most aware of all, according to new research by consultants at Deloitte.
“Roughly six in 10 Americans (59%) say climate change is currently affecting their local community either a great deal or some,” the Pew Center states, and “some 31% of Americans say the effects of climate change are affecting them personally.” And there was a continuing, clear connection between risk perception and political affiliation: “About three-quarters of Democrats (76%) say climate change is affecting their local community at least some, while roughly a third of Republicans say this (35%).”
Pew found that proximity to a coastline is also influencing perceptions of climate impacts, with 67% of Americans within 25 miles of a coast reporting that their local community was affected by climate change “at least some,” compared to only 50% of Americans living farther than 300 miles inland.
The difference holds true for Republicans, as well, with 42% near the coastline and only 28% farther away saying they see climate impacts in their communities. Among Democrats, 81% in coastal areas and 69% at least 300 miles inland recognized local climate impacts.
Survey respondents cited sea level rise as a clear danger for coastal communities facing floods and storm surges, while 45% identified weird temperatures and wild weather, regardless of their proximity to coastlines.
Meanwhile, the latest edition of an annual report from Deloitte found that dropping solar prices, growing awareness of climate change, and “the inclinations of millennials” are helping to shrink “the gap between environmental concern and consumer action,” reports CNBC.
Summarizing online interviews with 1,500 residential householders and 600 businesses, the report authors wrote that “in addition to expressing broad support for renewables, residential consumers are generally striving to do more to become greener at a personal level.” They added that “68% of electric power buyers said they are very concerned about climate change and their carbon footprint.”
The proportion of respondents who believe climate change is caused by human actions was up five points from 2017, to 74%. The share who said environmental concerns are overblown was down eight points, to 37%.
And these shifts are making their presence felt in the marketplace, writes CNBC: “In Deloitte’s survey of businesses, seven in 10 companies reported that customers were demanding that they draw at least some of their power from renewable sources.”
But even so, “only 14% of household consumers say they have been offered the option of buying green energy. Out of that small group, only 6% purchased it. Most who turned it down said their decision boiled down to cost.”
Over time, Deloitte concluded, the influence of greener, “techier” millennial citizens “will continue to grow as they become a larger part of the work force. Simply put, millennials have momentum, which makes them impossible to ignore.”
But that doesn’t mean they’ll readily accept “smart home” technology to manage energy use: Nearly one-third of all survey respondents, and 69% of millennials, expressed qualms about welcoming the systems into their homes.