John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Who's most worried about global warming in America?
First, the not-so-bad news: 63 percent of Americans believe that, yes, global warming is happening. Now the groaner: Less than half think humans are causing it, thanks to hotbeds of skepticism in places like Rusk County, Texas (37 percent), and Emery County, Utah (35 percent).
That's according to a fascinating statistical model developed by Yale and Utah State University, estimating public opinion on climate change right down to congressional districts and more than 3,000 counties. Researchers built the model using national data from the Climate Change in the American Mind project, and checked it via follow-up surveys in several states and cities. The resulting maps, which you can explore interactively, depict a nation thoroughly uncoordinated on its climate science and risk awareness.
Shown here in shades of blue, for example, are places where less than 50 percent of the populace believe humans are behind global warming:
And these are regions where only 30 to 35 percent of people believe scientists agree on climate change. (Ninety-seven percent agree, for the record.) There's a lot of skepticism swirling around in America's heartland and the South:
More than half of the people located in the yellow/orange zones below report being worried about climate change:
One thing the United States is almost united on: Nearly three-quarters of the population thinks the government should regulate CO2 as a pollutant (redder areas believe this more strongly):
Which city frets the most over global warming? That would be Washington, D.C., according to the researchers:
Nationally, 52% of Americans are worried about global warming. But, as the results show, this national number glosses over the geographic diversity in public opinion across the country. Concern about global warming ranges from an estimated low of 38% in Pickett County, Tenn., to a high of 74% in Washington, D.C. The results also identify significant variation within states. For example, in Texas, public worry about global warming ranges from a low of 39% in King County to a high of 61% in Travis County.