Americans in the Dark About Health Risks of Global Warming

by 4C

We are pleased to announce a new report, Public Perceptions of the Health Consequences of Global Warming, based on data from our national survey conducted in October 2014. We find that Americans are generally unaware of the potential health consequences of global warming. When asked what global warming-related health problems, if any, Americans are experiencing, only about one in four respondents (27%) were able to name at least one health problem known to be related to global warming.

Moreover, with the exception of respiratory problems including asthma and other lung diseases (14%) and illness, injury, and death caused by extreme weather (6%), fewer than 5% of Americans identified any other known health risks of global warming, which include, among other illnesses, insect and water-borne diseases and heat stroke.

The survey also found that only one in three Americans (32%) correctly understands that global warming disproportionally harms the most vulnerable members of our society. Young children, the elderly, lower-income Americans, the sick, racial and ethnic minorities - these are just some groups of Americans that are especially vulnerable to the health impacts of global warming.

Most Americans don't yet know that climate change threatens human health. This suggests the need for a public health education campaign to help Americans understand the health risks of climate change.

These findings come from a nationally-representative survey - Climate Change in the American Mind - conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.