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Americans expect climate change effects to worsen, Pew survey suggests

A Pew Research Center survey found a majority of Americans think climate change is harming people in the United States today. A pedestrian balances while holding an umbrella on a concrete wall divider for separating traffic along the FDR Drive in lower Manhattan during a rain storm in New York City on Sept. 29. New York City issued a state of emergency as torrential rain floods subways, roads and basements. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- A majority of Americans say climate change is harming people in the United States and climate effects will only get worse, a new national study by the Pew Research Center found.

The study of nearly 9,000 adults found 41% think their community will become a worse place to live in the next 30 years because of climate change. Only 7% think climate effects will make their community better. Another 41% think climate effects won't change conditions much in their area.

"The majority of Americans see some fairly severe environmental harms as likely to happen over the next 30 years," Alec Tyson of the Pew Research Center, who helped lead the survey, told NPR. "For example, 73% say they think a growing number of plant and animal species will go extinct, 61% say they think heat waves will cause large numbers of people to die in the U.S. every year and 58% think rising sea levels will force large numbers of people in the U.S. to move away from the coast."

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In addition, most Americans think they will have to make minor sacrifices over their lifetime because of climate change. A small number of people think climate effects will require major changes in their lives.

"Younger adults are more likely than older adults to expect adverse impacts from climate change in their communities. Overall, 56% of young adults ages 18 to 29 say their local community will be a worse place to live because of climate change in the next 30 years, while only 9% say climate change will make their local community a better place to live. Roughly three-in-ten young adults do not think climate change will have much of an effect on conditions in their area," the survey found.

A Pew Research Center survey found a majority of Americans think climate change is harming people in the United States today. Builds were damaged on Aug. 31 after Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Horseshoe Beach, Fla. Hurricane Idalia maked landfall in Florida as a Category 3 storm with winds of 125 mph. File Photo by Cristobal Herrera- Ulashkevich/EPA-EFE

Americans also think the energy industry and large businesses can help the most to reduce the dire effects of climate change while individuals have less of an ability to make changes.

"Asked to look ahead to 30 years from now, far more Americans think major changes to everyday life will be needed to address the problems from climate change than believe new technology will be able to address most problems stemming from climate impacts," the survey found.

FEMA Urban Search and Rescue teams work with local fire departments and the National Guard in Lahaina, Maui, on Aug. 16. A Pew Research Center survey said most Americans think climate change is harming people in the United States, and it will only get worse. Photo by Dominick Del Vecchio/FEMA
FEMA Urban Search and Rescue teams work with local fire departments and the National Guard in Lahaina, Maui, on Aug. 16. A Pew Research Center survey said most Americans think climate change is harming people in the United States, and it will only get worse. Photo by Dominick Del Vecchio/FEMA

The survey also found that Americans are divided along political lines regarding climate change. Some 73% of Democrats think major life changes are needed to address climate change problems, while 22% think new technology will be able to address the problems.

Of the 53% of Republicans who think climate change is at least a somewhat serious problem, 28% say changes to everyday life will be needed and 24% say new technology will solve problems associated with climate change.

A Pew Research Center survey found a majority of Americans think climate change is harming people in the United States today. On April 1, a man was killed and more than two dozen other people injured after the roof of the Apollo Theatre in Illinois collapsed, according to fire officials. Numerous tornadoes were confirmed across the center of the United States a week after at least 25 people were killed in Mississippi after a tornado and severe weather outbreak. File Photo by Matt Marton/EPA-EFE

The survey comes as the United States faced 24 weather disasters -- droughts, floods, wildfires and hurricanes, among others -- in 2023 alone with losses exceeding $1 billion each.