A man waves for a tow truck after getting swamped trying to cross a flooded section of the Cobbs Creek Parkway, Wednesday, April 30, 2014, in Philadelphia. Cobbs Creek and Darby Creek merge in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia where flooding is expected to get worse due to rising sea levels.
Poll finds most Pennsylvanians think climate change is major public health risk
As the Harrisburg reporter for StateImpact Pennsylvania, Marie Cusick covers energy and environmental issues for public radio stations statewide. She’s also part of NPR’s energy and environment team, which coordinates coverage between the network and select member station reporters around the country. Her work frequently airs on NPR shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Since 2012, Marie has closely followed the political, social, environmental, and economic effects of Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom. Her work has been recognized at the regional and national levels– honors include a Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and a national Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association. Previously, Marie was a multimedia reporter for WMHT in Albany, New York and covered technology for the station’s statewide public affairs TV show, New York NOW. In 2018, she became StateImpact’s first FAA-licensed drone pilot.
Fifty-one percent of respondents called climate change a “major” public health risk, 26 percent said the warming presents a “minor” risk, and 20 percent told pollsters they believe it poses no risk.
Chris Borick, director of the college’s Institute of Public Opinion, said this was the first year the survey asked people about climate change from a health perspective, but he’s been polling on climate issues for over a decade and notes public acceptance of the issue has been growing — across the state and nationally.
“Pennsylvanians are, like their counterparts across the country, more likely than any time in the last decade to think climate change is happening, that it’s affecting their lives, and that the impacts are broad,” Borick said.
Over the past century, the state has warmed by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Climate-related risks to Pennsylvanians include frequent extreme weather events, injury and death from those events, and threats to health through air pollution, diminished water quality, and heat stress. A special report from the UN last fall said that by 2040, the world faces myriad crises — including food shortages, extreme weather, wildfires and a mass die-off of coral reefs — unless emissions are cut sharply.
A poll conducted by Franklin and Marshall College in March, in partnership with PA Post, found 68 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters “definitely” or “probably” want the state to do more to address climate change. The same question was asked by F&M pollsters in 2018. While the overall share of people agreeing with those statements remained steady, this year saw an increase among people who fall into the “definitely” category.
The new Muhlenberg poll is the result of a telephone (landline and cell) survey of 405 adults in Pennsylvania between March 18 and April 5, 2019. The sample data was weighted by gender, race, age and educational attainment to reflect Pennsylvania population characteristics. The margin of error is +/- 6 percent.