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Climate change leads to extreme weather for most Floridians, a survey finds

Tropical Weather Atlantic
AP
/
NOAA
This GOES- East GeoColor satellite image taken Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, at 10:30 p.m. EDT., and provided by NOAA, shows Tropical Storm Mindy as it makes landfall on the Florida Panhandle. The storm touched down over St. Vincent Island, about 10 miles (15 km) west southwest of Apalachicola, according to the National Hurricane Center. (NOAA via AP)

The national survey shows that more Floridians want the state to protect against future extreme weather events rather than invest in clean energy.

A new survey shows that the vast majority of Floridians have experienced extreme weather events associated with climate change, like hurricanes, hot weather and flooding.

The survey, produced by Harvard University, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and NPR, also shows that more Floridians want the state to protect against future extreme weather events, rather than invest in clean energy. 

RELATED: Americans connect extreme heat and climate change to their health, a survey finds

Attitudes expressed in the study appear to support Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration’s focus on resilience projects. DeSantis has done little to move the state toward cleaner energy sources.

Overall, the survey showed that from higher electricity bills to worsened health, more than half of Americans have felt the impacts of extreme heat.

Nationally, poll results underline how people consciously connect climate change to their health. Nearly one-quarter of those who experienced extreme weather in the past five years said someone in their household had a serious health problem as a result.

And perceived health impacts don't fall equally, according to poll respondents: Overall, 11% of Americans personally affected by heat say their households have faced serious health problems resulting from a lack of air conditioning in their homes. Even greater shares of Native American, Latino, Black and Asian adults agreed with that sentiment.
The survey include a sample of adult Florida residents (196 interviews) on their experiences with extreme weather and climate change. Among the findings:

  • 68% say they have been personally affected by hurricanes or severe tropical storms in the last five years.
  • 57% say they have been personally affected by extremely hot weather or heat waves in the last five years.
  • Among the 83% of Florida households experiencing extreme weather events in the past five years, 22% reported serious financial problems as a result.
  • Among those households, 26% reported evacuating from their homes as a result, while 21% reported major home or property damage.
  • Among Floridians, there is generally higher public support for policies aimed at protecting against future weather disasters (e.g., 54% support increased state) compared with reducing carbon emissions to limit climate change (only 41% support a carbon tax if it substantially increases their energy prices).

“The bottom line is, how can we connect this recognition that those impacts of extreme weather events are related to climate change. If climate change is human-caused, then we can do something about it collectively,”  said Alonzo Plough with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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Amy Green