Florida’s Republicans starting to embrace realities of climate change, survey shows

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Dead palm trees on the beach on Egmont Key, Florida. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (Nov. 2019).

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An increasing number of Floridians agree that human actions are causing climate change, including a record number of Florida Republicans. This could help efforts towards a cleaner environment.

A survey, conducted in March by Florida Atlantic University, showed that nearly half of Republican Floridians now believe humans have largely caused climate change.

“There’s just no more debating about theoretical differences and causes, or if it’s even here. There’s really a very solid consensus now that a) climate change is happening in Florida, or amongst Floridians, and b) that it is largely human-caused”

Dr. Colin Polsky, director of the FAU Center for Environmental Studies, describes a deep historical divide regarding climate change. In the 80s, Democrats made climate change a key issue. Naturally, Republicans took the opposing side.

“It was something the democrats were very interested in, and the Republicans saw an opportunity to distinguish themselves from the Democrats. And in particular, on questions of ‘well this sounds like something that if we were to respond to it effectively, it would require big government,”

However, in 2023, many Floridians see the effect of climate change through first-hand, lived experiences. Last hurricane season included two major storms impacting Florida that caused widespread damage and over 150 deaths.

It seems widening beliefs in human-caused climate change are now leading to support for policies to stop it. According to the survey, over half of Floridians support a tax to curb climate change. 71 percent support the teaching of climate change causes and impacts in public K-12 classrooms. This came as a surprise to Polsky.

“I was expecting to find less support for teaching climate change than we found. So, I think what it means is the public interest in climate change translates not just into action in the form of a potential tax, but also to saying this is something that our children need to learn about to carry on the torch for the next generation.”

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