CREDIT: Columbia University
Even Americans from the reddest of the red states overwhelmingly believe that climate change is happening, but sixteen states are doing absolutely nothing to prepare for it, according to two studies released this week.
The most recent study was released Wednesday by Stanford University social psychologist Jon Krosnick, and analyzes public opinion on the existence of climate change in 46 states. According to that study, 75 percent of the total population acknowledges the existence of climate change and at least two-thirds of the population believes greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. businesses should be regulated.
Even in the more Republican-dominated states, belief in global warming commanded public opinion: 84 percent of Texans and 87 percent of Oklahomas reportedly accept the idea that climate change is occurring. Data for Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia were not included in the study.
The findings, according to the Guardian, “confound the conventional wisdom of climate denial as a central pillar of Republican politics” and “indicate substantial support for Obama’s decision to use the Environmental Protection Agency to cut emissions from power plants.”
“The most striking finding that is new today was that we could not find a single state in the country where climate scepticism was in the majority,” Krosnick told the Guardian, adding that personal experiences of warmer weather seemed to be the driving factor in convincing individuals in red states that the climate is changing.
But even though Krosnick’s findings suggest widespread acceptance, a different study released this week by Columbia Law School says that 16 states — all of them land-locked — have either failed to mention or have inaccurately mentioned climate change in their state disaster planning reports.
Delaware, New Mexico, Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and Wyoming were just a handful of those states ranked as Category 1, meaning their discussion of climate change in their State Hazard Mitigation Plans is either completely lacking, confusing or incorrect. Eight of those states ignore climate change entirely, while both the Mississippi and Montana plans only discuss climate change as a complexity to dealing with wildfire, the report says.
States like Texas, Pennsylvania, and Utah had a Category 2 “minimal mention” of climate change in their plans, and only 10 states met Category 3 “accurate but limited” discussion criteria.
“In some states, the phrases ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ are politically toxic, and state officials may wish to keep their heads down,” Columbia University’s Center for Climate Change Law director Michael B. Gerrard told Climate Central. “This is unfortunate because without explicitly acknowledging anticipated trends, and the fact that the future will not resemble the past, states are unable to engage in rational planning.”
States are not required to include analysis of climate change in their disaster preparation plans, something Columbia’s study said inevitably leads to “uneven treatment of the issue and missed opportunities for mitigation planning.”
“The relative lack of discussion of climate change in land-locked states may point to a need for greater communication of how risks such as drought, floods, heat events, and non-coastal storms are affected by climate change,” the Columbia study said. “State plans that currently include climate change analyses and adaptation plans may be used as examples for improving other plans.”