For more information: Martin Desmond
Lincoln County survey shows residents want to see action to combat climate change
The Citizens’ Climate Lobby – Newport group (CCL) and the 350 Oregon Central Coast (350) have released the results of a 32 question climate change survey of Lincoln County residents which showed that 88% of the 123 respondents agreed that human activity is contributing to climate change. Over 65% of the respondents agreed that the Sixth Mass Extinction (ongoing extinction of other species) is happening right now. Over 70% of the respondents believe that climate change is a serious threat to current generations.
“The results of our survey show that the survey respondents overwhelmingly believe that the climate crisis is human-caused and poses a serious threat to life forms on the planet Earth,” says Martin Desmond, co-chair of the CCL Newport group. “The survey also showed that the respondents want both government and industry to take an active role to combat greenhouse gas emissions. Over 70% of the respondents would support a county ballot measure to endorse a carbon neutral goal for Lincoln County by 2035. In addition, 25% of the respondents were willing to pay upwards of 5% of their income to solve the climate issue.”
The two environmental groups had released a survey in late August 2019 asking 32 questions for Lincoln County residents about their views of climate change. The survey included a variety of different questions about the location of the respondent, the political and cultural background, how the respondent views human-caused climate change, and what steps and actions would the respondent support to solve the climate crisis. The groups had submitted news releases to the local news media and social media in an attempt to secure as many responses as possible. While there was an attempt to solicit as many viewpoints as possible, CCL and 350 agree that the poll is not as scientifically valid as a Gallup or Pew poll.
Of the 123 respondents, over 95% were from Lincoln County cities. The other respondents were spread throughout the rural parts of Lincoln County. The respondents were asked about their political and cultural attitudes:
Regardless of political affiliation, an overwhelming 88% of the respondents agreed that human activity is contributing to climate change. In a similar vein, 73% agreed that climate change is a serious threat to current generations. However, when asked if climate change was a serious threat to future generations, a smaller majority of 63% of the respondents agreed.
Large majorities supported action being taken by local governments to reduce greenhouse gases including increasing the availability of public transportation (63%); supporting the development of wind and solar energy (71%); supporting the development of wave energy (64%); supporting improvement of energy efficiency in public and private buildings (77%); and support more options to increase the use of recyclables (77%).
On the national and state levels, 79% supported the United States re-joining the Paris Climate Accord and 63% supported HB 2020 – Clean Energy jobs bill that nearly passed in the 2019 Oregon State Legislative session and will be considered again in the 2020 session.
While there was strong support for government and industry to take action, the respondents did not display much confidence. When asked about federal, state, and local action, individuals responded:
Interestingly, the respondents showed more confidence in the ability of business and industry to reduce greenhouse gases: When asked if more concerned about the financial costs to mitigate climate change or the ecological impacts of climate change, 61% were more concerned about the ecological impacts rather than the economic impacts. 24% were equally concerned about ecological and economic impacts while less than 10% were just concerned about the economic impacts.
Respondents were asked what they would be willing to do to reduce their consumption with eight choices. The top choice by 66% of the respondents was to eat less meat. The second category was to partake in an electric audit to reduce energy use. 52% of the respondents were willing to travel less by air.
While Americans typically want something done, but are not willing to pay the costs, this survey indicated that individuals are willing to pay for actual mitigation costs to reduce greenhouse gases. A surprising 26% of the respondents were willing to pay up to 5% of their income to pay for actual mitigation. Only 19% of the respondents said that they were not willing to pay anything, while the others chose various percentages from 1% to 5%.
The respondents showed surprisingly strong support of 70% for a county-wide or city-wide ballot initiative to be placed on the ballot in 2020 to endorse a carbon neutral goal by 2035 for the cities and towns of Lincoln County.
Respondents also supported a modest increase in the tourist room tax for Lincoln City, Newport, and Lincoln County by a 3.5 to 1 factor to pay for the mitigation costs of greenhouse gases generated by tourists. By a smaller majority, 51% of the respondents would support a prepared food tax (primarily restaurants) for Newport for those mitigation costs.
The survey also asked questions about the purchase of electric cars since Central Lincoln PUD is nearly 100% carbon free. 44% of the respondents would be willing to consider buying or leasing an electric car. However, when asked about what factors are holding people back from purchasing electric cars, 33% said that they didn’t think that the electric cars had sufficient range, 24% said that electric cars are too expensive, and 9% would not know if they would save money by driving an electric car. Nevertheless, 76% supported the building of more electric car stations in Lincoln County.
The survey asked respondents about the reasons why HB 2020 – the cap and invest climate change bill- failed to become law. The format of the question allowed for multiple responses. 51% of the respondents said that the legislative process had become too polarized between the Democrats and the Republicans. 49% said that the walking out by the Republican state senators effectively killed the bill. Surprisingly, only 16% felt that the bill did not pass because the gasoline and diesel prices would have risen too much. Plus, only 12% thought that the bill was too complex.
On the local level, 45% of the respondents would be willing to partake in neighborhood resilience efforts. Those actions showed that 58% would be willing to develop water cisterns; 49% would be willing to do community gardens; and 55% would be willing to help develop renewable electric micro grids.
A resounding 80% of the respondents supported the creation of local climate action plans for the cities and towns of Lincoln County.
“Our two environmental groups – CCL and 350 Oregon Central Coast – have been holding a series of public meetings in Waldport, Lincoln City, and Newport to discuss the development of a climate action plan. We will be releasing the citizen-drive action plan in the spring 2020,” said Desmond.
A copy of the climate survey PowerPoint presentation can be obtained by sending an email to: email@example.com.