More Americans believe climate change is happening, but talk of fixes still polarizing

Elyse Smith Image
Friday, September 1, 2023
Talk of climate change fixes complex as more Americans acknowledge it
ABC13's Weathering Tomorrow looks at the public opinion on climate change, which a majority of Americans believe is real and will impact them.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's important to keep in mind that climate change will play a significant role when preparing for future natural disasters.

For years, climate change has been a divisive issue as Americans have struggled to comprehend how the world is changing. You may think we're polarized when it comes to climate change.

Our data team at ABC News analyzed research from Yale's Program on Climate Change Communication and found that much of the country has already felt the impacts of climate change. Nearly three-quarters of American adults surveyed believe climate change is happening, and two-thirds are worried about it.

Locally, that study also showed that 68% of Harris County adults believe climate change is happening. And 54 percent of people say they think they'll be personally affected by climate change in the future.

But finding and implementing those solutions to climate change can be complicated.

"Fossil fuels have been really good, not only to this country but to this state and this city. So it's a little bit frightening to think, 'Well, what's gonna happen if we stop having to use fossil fuels?'" Dominic Boyer, anthropologist and Rice University professor, said. "We also have an incumbent fossil fuel industry that's very powerful, as we know, and that doesn't really want to see its business model and its capital evaporate overnight. "

Boyer also acknowledged that the flip side - the impact of not solving those problems related to fossil fuels - is also scary.

Fossil fuels - more so the burning of them - is one of the drivers of global climate change. So, to prevent further impacts from climate change, there needs to be a larger transition to renewable energy and resources. See how it's complicated?

To be able to approach finding climate change solutions today, we have to become resilient to these weather events and natural disasters. And it's not just the longer heat waves or stronger hurricanes. Climate change is seen and experienced through local extremes that can range from drought to sea-level rise, wildfires, and floods.

Many communities across southeast Texas have already taken steps to help residents weather future storms better. Earlier this summer, the city of Houston was declared a Storm Ready Community by the National Weather Service. This means the city meets specific requirements set by the NWS to help their communities prepare for severe weather through advanced planning, education, and awareness.

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