Climate change is a concern to people all over New Jersey

Two-thirds of New Jersey residents believe climate change is a crisis or a major problem and almost three-quarters believe it is affecting New Jersey now, according to a Stockton University poll released recently.

The telephone poll of 807 adult New Jersey residents, conducted Sept. 18-29, 2019 by the Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton, shows 67 percent believe climate change is a crisis or major problem.  A larger group, 73 percent, believe it is already affecting New Jersey.

 John Froonjian, interim director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, presented results of the climate change poll

The views of residents who live in counties along the shore or Delaware Bay (Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem) were statistically similar to those statewide. 

After the statewide poll was completed, the Polling Institute continued interviewing residents of coastal and bay counties, creating a dataset of 563 interview results that were compared with statewide results.

The poll had a margin of error of +/-3.5 percent statewide and +/- 4.1 percent coastal.

“The results show climate change is a concern to people all over New Jersey and not just those who live along the Jersey shore,” said John Froonjian, interim director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton, who presented an overview of the results at Coast Day at Stockton Atlantic City on Oct. 13.

Among those who believe climate change is currently affecting New Jersey, more than 75 percent cited rising sea level, earth warming, harming or changing the ocean, extreme weather and worsening pollution as major problems. Beach erosion was cited by 70 percent as a major problem, while harm to farming was mentioned by 68 percent, flooding by 66 percent and health effects by 57 percent.

Sixty-four percent of respondents believe climate change is caused mainly by human activity and burning fossil fuels.  Twenty-seven percent believe it is a natural occurrence.

More than half of respondents (56 percent) believe government could or should do more, and 31 percent say the government response is totally inadequate. Ten percent believe the government response has been strong and appropriate.

Views did vary along party lines. Democrats (92 percent) and independents (64 percent) were more likely to see climate change as a crisis or major problem than Republicans (35 percent).  Women (72 percent) were also more likely to view it as a crisis or major problem than men (62 percent).

The results also showed while young people are the most concerned about the issue, concern cuts across age, racial, ethnic, economic, gender and geographic lines.  Almost 80 percent of respondents ages 18-29 see climate changes as a crisis or a major problem. That percentage drops to under 70 percent for those over 65.

Seventy-two percent said they believe flooding in the coastal zone of the state is a significant or serious problem. Just over half (54 percent) would support local construction projects to reduce the threat of flooding, even if they had to pay higher taxes or fees.  A larger group (68 percent) would support limiting or restricting construction next to beaches and the ocean, and 85 percent would support building dunes to protect the shore even if they block the view of the ocean.

A majority of respondents (59 percent) oppose drilling for natural gas or oil off the Atlantic Coast, while 80 percent said they would support wind turbines off the coast to harness wind energy.

“We wondered whether those living near the water would feel differently about these issues than residents throughout the state,” Froonjian said. “But there was broad agreement across New Jersey. On almost every question, results in coastal areas were within a few percentage points of the statewide responses.”

For full poll results, go to Poll Results

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