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The Fifth National Climate Assessment, released on Tuesday by the Biden administration, is unique for its focus on the present. Like previous versions, it looks at how rising temperatures will change the United States in decades to come, but it also makes clear that the rising seas, major hurricanes, and other disastrous consequences of climate change predicted in prior reports have begun to arrive. The effects are felt in every region. The report outlines steps every level of government can take to combat the climate crisis. And it takes stock of progress that has been made over the past four years. Despite this progress, climate impacts — oppressive heat domes in the Southeast that linger for weeks on end, record-breaking drought in the Southwest, bigger and more damaging hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, wildfires of unusual duration and intensity along the West Coast — are accelerating. The Grist staff, located all over the country, reviewed the assessment to provide you with the most important takeaways for your region.
New US climate report says land theft and colonization amplify the climate crisis for Indigenous peoples
Indigenous self-determination is a key climate solution — if the federal government can get behind it. The latest National Climate Assessment cites a 2021 study that concluded that Indigenous peoples in the United States lost 99 percent of their territories through colonization, and that the lands that they were forced to move to face higher wildfire risk and worse drought than their traditional homelands. According to the authors, Indigenous peoples across the continental U.S. and its island holdings hail from more than 700 tribes and communities, and while each community has a different relationship with the federal government, all share similar experiences of colonization through stolen land, cultural assimilation, and persistent marginalization. The report also detailed problems with the National Flood Insurance Program, a federal insurance program managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that helps homeowners insure against the risk of flooding, something that many insurance companies won’t cover. The program is supposed to help communities mitigate flood risk, but the report found that its implementation in Native communities has been flawed and ineffective.
This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including new polling about fossil fuel accountability, publicly owned utilities, and frontline communities’ vulnerability to extreme weather.
Black and Hispanic Americans feel particularly vulnerable to extreme weather, reporting less confidence in their local governments and less preparedness in their communities. Wide majorities of all racial and ethnic groups “agree” or “strongly agree” that they have access to reliable warnings and information about potential natural disasters and that they have someone they can call for help in the event of extreme weather. Still, White Americans exceed both Black and Hispanic Americans by about 10 percentage points on each measure. Between 53% and 56% of Black and Hispanic adults agree they could recover and rebuild, have the resources to do so or have taken steps to prepare their household for a natural disaster or extreme weather event. Meanwhile, between 65% and 72% of White Americans agree across these measures -- indicating their greater degree of preparedness and ability to recover.
This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including a new Pew report on Americans’ climate attitudes, a new analysis of pro-climate Republicans, and new polling on President Biden’s investments in clean energy and infrastructure.
Americans widely agree that climate change is harming people in the U.S. today and expect climate impacts to get worse in the future. Most trust that climate scientists understand the problem, despite doubts among Republicans. 75% of Americans recognize that human activity is contributing at least “some” to climate change. 71% of Americans agree that climate change is causing at least “some” harm to people in the U.S. today. 56% of Americans rate climate change as an “extremely” or “very” serious problem. 65% of Americans believe that climate scientists understand how climate change affects extreme weather events “very” or “fairly” well. 63% of Americans believe that climate scientists understand the causes of climate change “very” or “fairly” well.
Americans have become more worried about and interested in global warming and started to perceive it as a greater risk in recent years. Americans were asked in a survey (in 2021): “What do you think is the greatest threat that global warming poses to the United States, if any?” The most common theme was Weather extremes and changes (20% of Americans), which included different types of extreme weather (e.g., floods, wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, extreme temperatures), changing weather patterns, and seasonal shifts. Many respondents in this category listed multiple extreme events, such as wildfires and droughts, or heat waves and flooding. The second most common theme was Global warming is not a threat (7%), which included statements about not being worried about climate change or expressing positions that raise doubts about climate science and scientists. The third most common themes were Pollution (6%), Other (6%), and Don’t know (6%). Respondents in the Pollution category mentioned specific pollution sources, such as “carbon dioxide,” “vehicle emissions,” or “waste disposal.”
Nearly nine in ten Americans say that they’ve experienced an extreme weather event, and extreme weather continues to shape Americans’ climate attitudes. 74% of Americans recognize that climate change is happening. 52% of Americans say they’ve become more concerned about climate change over the past year, while only 9% have become less concerned.
This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including new polling on support for climate justice policies, the EPA and FDA, climate impacts, and climate as a top priority among young people.