Poll: More Florida Republicans accept that human actions cause climate change

More than half of Floridians willing to pay $10 monthly to combat warming

By: - May 11, 2023 12:01 pm

Picture of a submerged BMW in a street after Hurricane Ian. Credit: New Smyrna Beach official Facebook page

A survey of more than 1,400 Floridians shows that 65% believe that the causes of climate change are predominantly due to human action, and that includes nearly half of all Republicans (49%).

The poll shows that more half of Floridians (52%) say they would be willing to pay a $10 month infrastructure improvement tax to protect their communities from the deleterious effects of climate change.

Those results are included in the latest Florida Climate Resilience Survey, conducted by the Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies within the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

As more extreme weather occurs each year, more Republicans are acknowledging the existence of climate change, but most still maintain it’s because of natural environmental cycles and not global carbon emissions from fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas.

But public opinion has been changing as hurricanes have become stronger and more frequent and temperatures continue to rise on an almost yearly basis in the Sunshine State.

Many Floridians are directly feeling the pain.  The survey reports that approximately three-quarters (77%) of Floridians have been exposed to at least one weather hazard in the past year, and almost half of respondents to the survey (47 percent) were affected in the past 12 months, with an even greater proportion (67%) by strong winds from hurricanes or tornadoes.

When asked whether Florida’s government should do more to address climate change, more than 70% agreed, with 44% strongly agreeing.

Although the Legislature has ignored proposals to establish goals to go 100% renewable energy within the coming decades, one measure was enacted this year to address sea level rise.

‘Vulnerability assessments’

The Legislature unanimously passed a bill (HB 111) that expands the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Resilient Grant Program to pay cities and counties to run “vulnerability assessments that identify or address risks of inland or coastal flooding and sea level rise,” according to the bill language. It also provides funding to water management districts to support local government adaptation.

However, two other climate change related bills bit the dust this session.

One (SB 706) would have required employers whose employees regular work outdoors to implement a heat exposure safety program approved by the Florida departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Health.

Another (SB 734) would have authorized the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to provide grants allowing coastal counties to assess the effects of saltwater intrusion into their water supplies and the counties’ preparedness to respond to such threats. The measure passed unanimously (36-0) in the state Senate but died on the House floor.

In the Legislature’s budget approved last week, there is $300 million allocated combat sea level rise.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.