Americans believe climate change is happening but are unwilling to pay to build sea walls and relocate coastal communities, a Stanford University poll released Thursday found.
The survey, conducted by the university’s Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Ocean Solutions, was the first to investigate public attitudes toward preparing for a future of rising seas and extreme storms.
Just 33 percent supported trucking in sand to replace beaches that were washed away in past storms, while 37 percent supported relocating communities away from the coast. There was more support for restricting future development in coastal areas. A large proportion—80 percent—said money for the efforts to protect coastal communities should come from the people who live there.
Jon Krosnick, the professor who oversaw the survey, seems to believe the public may see the effort to restrain climate change without reducing emissions as futile. “It’s support for preventing damage to people or business, but not by trying to hold mother nature back,” he said. “It’s saying: we are not going to win this battle, let’s retreat.’ ”
Read Truthdig’s on-the-ground report of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of the Rockaways community in New York City’s Queens neighborhood in November.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Those surveyed were especially wary of setting up a direct confrontation with natural forces, such as building sea walls or trucking in sand to eroding beaches. They did not see the point of paying people to leave areas at risk from extreme storms and rising seas.
… The survey found high awareness of the risks of climate change – and broad acceptance of the need to plan for a hotter and more unpredictable climate. Some 82% of respondents believed in the existence of climate change. More than 70% believed climate change would lead to dangerous sea-level rise and more damaging storms. And a strong majority of those surveyed said it was important to act on climate change.
MTAPhotos (CC BY 2.0)
A boat washed up on a subway track in the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy.