Washington, DC, September 18, 2021
The Axios-Ipsos Hard Truths Environmental Racism poll finds that while all Americans are experiencing much the same climate-related challenges, minority Americans are much more likely to experience poor environmental conditions. Along similar lines, Americans across the board report similar experiences with severe weather, but Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to experience prolonged power outages or water safety issues. This comes as a majority of Americans believe climate change is happening and support efforts to fight it, even though they are pessimistic about our ability to counter the worst impacts.
1. Approximately two-thirds of Americans report environmental conditions where they live are good. However, reported conditions vary widely by race and ethnicity, and urbanicity with minority Americans much less likely to report good conditions.
- Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans are much less likely to report “good” air, water, and noise quality where they live. They are also less likely to report good amounts of tree cover and greenery and trash.
- Even accounting for urbanicity, white Americans living in urban areas are more likely to report “good” environmental conditions in their neighborhood than minority Americans.
- Over half (54%) of Americans live near locations correlated with higher levels of pollution including major highways, manufacturing plants, or waste dumps. Black and Hispanic Americans are also more likely than white Americans to report that they live near these locations.
2. A third of Americans report experiencing some sort of weather-related (climate change related) damage or disruption at their home in the last year.
- Just under a fifth (18%) of Americans report power outages lasting a day or more. Black Americans (23%) are more likely to have experienced power outages.
- About one in nine report weather-related flooding (13%) or water safety/boil notices (12%). Black Americans are again more likely to experience water safety issues (17%).
3. Most Americans do not readily recognize environmental racism.
- When presented with two options, most Americans (57%) agree that “all Americans suffer the consequences of pollution and environmental contamination equally” compared to 41% who agree “poor communities and people of color are more likely to suffer the consequences of pollution”.
- Black and Asian Americans (56% for both) are more likely to agree that “poor communities and people of color are more likely to suffer the consequences of pollution” than white Americans (37%) and Hispanics (40%).
4. Americans are broadly supportive of efforts to deal with climate change but are much less likely to support measures where they have to foot the bill.
- One in four Americans say that climate change is one of their most worrying issues, including two in five Democrats (42%) and one in three Americans (31%) living in the drought-ravaged West.
- Four in five (79%) Americans say climate change is happening, but only just over half (55%) believe it is human caused.
- Two-thirds (69%) support an increase in taxes on corporations and the wealthy to fund improvements in air and water quality. That support drops to 39% when asked if they would support a broad income tax increase or to 34% who support a gasoline tax increase to do the same.
5. While support for efforts to halt climate change exists in principle, Americans are very pessimistic about our ability to do anything.
- When presented with a series of statements about the ability of humans to halt climate change, two in five (39%) say humans can stop climate change but people are not willing to change their behavior to fix the problem, and a quarter (29%) say humans can stop climate change but it's unclear if we will.
- Only about one in eight (12%) say humans can and are making progress on climate change.
About the Study
This Axios/Ipsos Hard Truths Environmental poll was conducted September 9th to September 15th, 2021 by Ipsos using our KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 2,184 general population adults age 18 or older.
The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.
The study was conducted in both English and Spanish. The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, household income, race/ethnicity by gender, race/ethnicity by age, race/ethnicity by education and race/ethnicity by region. The demographic benchmarks came from 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) from the US Census Bureau. The weighting categories were as follows:
- Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
- Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
- Education (High School graduate or less, Some College, Bachelor and beyond)
- Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
- Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
- Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
- Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White/Other non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by gender (Male, Female)
- Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White/Other non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by age (18-44, 45+)
- Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White/Other non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by education (Less than college grad, Bachelor and beyond)
- Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White/Other non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by Census region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.46. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.
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