By Anders Lorenzen
In the US, climate change remains a toxic and divisive issue and as a country bipartisan support on this issue has never been further from reality than it is today.
However, there might be bright sparks of hope on the horizon with more and more Americans accepting the scientific reality of climate change, though not yet to an extent that is significantly influencing political change.
Having said that in one ethnic group, Latino Americans, the worry and acceptance of climate change is high, according to research and polling conducted by Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
The report shows that the awareness and worry about climate change among Latinos is far higher than in any other polled group. A whopping 84% or eight in ten think that climate change is happening. Out of that 69%, or six in ten are extremely sure it is happening.
And here is the crucial number, as in general some Americans who agree that climate change is happening may not agree it is due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels. Yet 70% or seven in ten believe that climate change is caused by humans. It also comes with an important add-on which is that only 21% or two in ten believe climate change is caused by changes in the environment.
Now the emotional response to it. 78% or three in four are worried about climate change, compare that against the non-Latino population where the number is far lower at 56%. Of that 78 %, 35% are very worried about climate change where amongst non-Latinos it is only 16%.
However only half of the Latino population believe that climate change is harming the US right now, implying that there are still many who believe it is a future, rather than present, dilemma. And just above half or 53% say that they have experienced the impacts of climate change.
Many Latino Americans are also willing to take political action on climate change. 60% said they would vote for a candidate based on their position on climate change, while 51% say they would be willing to campaign to push their elected official to take action on climate change.
Moving forward this could be crucial, where we could see a huge swing in the political landscape in response to such research that clearly indicates a majority of the Latino population wants to see political action on climate change and that it will impact how they vote.
The United States’ 58 million Latinos currently account for 17% of the US population and is the fastest growing group in the country. By 2065 it is expected that their population share will have risen to 24%.
You can read the full findings here.