New research from Yale’s Program on Climate Change Communication shows how Americans think about climate change, county by county and state by state. The research reveals that people in the American West and Northeast—home to the majority of skiers in the country—as well as those in southern parts of Texas and Florida, have the strongest views on climate change.
Overall, 70 percent of the country thinks global warming is happening, and the same number believe it will harm future generations. Far fewer, 40 percent, believe that effects from anthropogenic changes to our climate will personally harm them. While the current administration intends to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, whose chief, Scott Pruitt, has denounced the decades of research from the department he now runs by saying that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to climate change, 75 percent of the country believes CO2 should be regulated, according to the new study.
In their summary of Yale’s research, the New York Times addressed why such a low percentage of Americans think climate change will harm them:
“Global warming is precisely the kind of threat humans are awful at dealing with: a problem with enormous consequences over the long term, but little that is sharply visible on a personal level in the short term. Humans are hard-wired for quick fight-or-flight reactions in the face of an imminent threat, but not highly motivated to act against slow-moving and somewhat abstract problems, even if the challenges that they pose are ultimately dire.”
Because of its reliance on consistently cold temperatures, skiing (part of a $70 billion winter recreation industry) is one of the most vulnerable communities to the impacts of climate change. The American West stands to lose anywhere from 25 to 100 percent of its snowpack by 2100. For many current skiers, that is within their skiing lifetime.
PHOTO: Cody Downard