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90% of Floridians believe climate change is real, study finds

Only 74% of Americans as a whole think climate change is happening, according to a recent survey.
 
St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue responds to a call of a fire in a house on a  flooded street in Shore Acres in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia on Aug. 31 in St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue responds to a call of a fire in a house on a flooded street in Shore Acres in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia on Aug. 31 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Oct. 25, 2023

Floridians, more than other Americans, believe climate change is actually happening, according to a new study by Florida Atlantic University. They also want the government to do something about it.

FAU’s Center for Environmental Studies found that 90% of Floridians believe climate change is underway, whereas only 74% of Americans as a whole think climate change is happening, according to a recent Yale University survey.

Previous Florida Atlantic University surveys were similar, showing that 86% to 92% of Floridians had that belief.

Other polls show similar findings.

One conducted by the Associated Press and the University of Chicago in April and September shows that close to 90% of Americans surveyed said they’d experienced extreme weather in the past five years.

Of that 90%, 75% think climate change is at least partially responsible, and 74% think climate change is happening, though they disagree as to the causes.

“Floridians might be more likely to believe climate change is happening due to their experiences with hurricanes and other extreme weather,” said Colin Polsky, Ph.D., the founding director of Florida Atlantic University’s School of Environmental, Coastal and Ocean Sustainability.

Florida is certainly prone to weather emergencies. According to data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida is home to 13 of the top 25 most natural disaster-prone counties in the U.S. between 2013 and 2023.

Florida residents not only acknowledge climate change at a higher rate than the rest of the U.S., they also want both the state and federal government to do something about it.

Sixty-nine percent support state action and 70% support federal action.

There isn’t necessarily agreement on the cause of climate change, though. The study found that in March, 65% of those surveyed believed there were human causes to climate change, but in the most recent poll in September, that number declined slightly to 57%.

Polsky suspects that could change as the state’s demographics shift. Florida added more than 400,000 new residents last year, and the university’s last two surveys showed that newer residents were more likely to believe in a human role in climate change compared to people who’ve lived in Florida longer than five years.