The Convinced. Climate Hawks. Alarmists. They’re known by many names, but who are they? Are you one? Would you know one on the street?
A new poll of Massachusetts residents’ views on climate change sheds some light on how the Commonwealth’s Convinced population looks, votes, and acts. Of course, there are individuals of every gender, color, and creed who are Convinced that human-caused climate change is a real and present danger, worthy of personal and government action. But the poll identified several traits that are significantly more common among the Convinced than in the general population or among those Dismissive of climate change.
The Convinced are young. Overall, 59% of Massachusetts residents think climate change is happening, at least in part because of human actions. But that rises to a whopping 76% in the under 30 crowd. Concern about the impacts of climate change shows a similar trend. In contrast, the belief that climate change is not happening is most common among those over 60.
The Convinced are Democrats. Fully 70% of the Convinced are self-identified Democrats. That’s a lot, even in a blue state like Massachusetts. Meanwhile, The Convinced are less than half as likely as the general population to be Republican. The disparity between Convinced and Dismissive populations is even greater.
The Convinced are ethnically diverse. 75% of Latino respondents say climate change is happening and caused by humans, compared to 59% of white respondents. As a result, Latinos make up a larger proportion of the Convinced population.
Latinos and African-Americans are also more likely to think that climate change poses a very serious threat, that it should be a high long-term priority for the state, and to choose environmental protection over economic growth when the two goals are in conflict.
Compared to the overall population, the Convinced are also slightly more likely to be female, and to have a college education. The income profile of the Convinced largely matches the general population, with a slightly increased tendency toward earning $50-100,000 per year. Overall, the picture that emerges is of a Convinced population that is young, educated, middle-class, ethnically diverse, and heavily Democrat.
And, of course, the Convinced voice strong support for policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Dismissive and those in between the extremes have their own unique traits and present some interesting challenges for policy makers and those trying to raise awareness about climate change. So stay tuned.