Poll: 66% of Oregonians predict unstoppable climate change
That's the pessimistic point of view espoused by the two-thirds of Oregonians who believe there's a slight chance, or no chance at all, that humans can solve climate change in time to stave off the worst of its effects, according to a new poll.
The data comes from the nonprofit Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, which surveyed 1,154 adult state residents in mid-August to map Oregonians' perception of climate change. Survey respondents were selected to match state demographics. The margin of error ranges from 1.7% to 2.9% per question.
A majority of residents think there's only a small chance (45%) — or no hope at all (21%) — of stopping climate change, the results show, or about 66% total.
Interestingly, a similar slice of the state says human-caused climate change is fact (64%), compared to just 8% who believe that carbon emissions' role in global climate is fiction. Democrats (85%) far outpace Republicans (27%) in describing climate change as reality, a trend also seen comparing college graduates (77%) to those with a high school diploma or less (57%).
"People are more pessimistic about forest fires and the climate crisis than about solving communicable diseases like COVID (33%), voting rights and secure elections (40%), racial discrimination (58%), or population growth (62%)," pollsters said in a briefing memo.
Here are a few more highlights from the survey:
• Despite the dramatic photos of wildfires and flooding that inundate social media, a majority of Oregonians say climate change has had no (22%) or little (40%) impact on their life. That said, the impact has been significant (27%) or dramatic (11%) for the remainder.
• Oregonians aren't eager to pay more at the pump, either. A third (35%) wouldn't support any sort of fossil fuel tax, and another 13% wouldn't want to pay more than a quarter per gallon in tax. A skimpy majority (51%) would pay as much as 50 cents. Only 15% would OK a tax of $4 or more, if that's what it takes to halt climate change.
• While research shows that Americans generate, on average, 15 to 25 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually — compared to a global average of four tons per year — most Oregonians think their own lifestyle is below the mean. Some 42% of respondents said their emissions are extremely low, 40% said their emissions are low, while just 3% admitted to average levels of pollution.
What about the solutions?
Oregonians largely favor government interventions that promote tree planting (81%) and incentivize renewable energy sources (80%), pollsters wrote. A majority also approve of strengthening regulations on industrial emissions (73%), as well as implementing tougher fuel efficiency standards (69%).
"Nearly half of Oregonians say they aren't sure about geo-engineering strategies, like reflective artificial clouds (47%)," pollsters say. "Strategies like this will need more media attention before people have strong opinions."
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