North Carolinians express views on the environment
Published April 27, 2023
In a new High Point University Poll, almost half (47%) of North Carolinians said climate change is an emergency. Another 39% said climate change is not an emergency and 14% didn’t offer an opinion.
When asked which statement comes closest to their view about global warming, 35% of poll respondents said global warming is caused mostly by human activity such as burning fossil fuels. Another 20% said global warming is caused mostly by natural patterns in the earth’s environment while 26% said it is caused by both. Only 10% of respondents said global warming does not exist.
A majority (55%) of North Carolinians said they think that the extreme weather events in the United States over the past few years are related to climate change. Less than one-third (29%) said they do not think so and 16% didn’t offer an opinion.
Over one-third (37%) of North Carolina residents say they are worried that they or someone in their family might be affected by an extreme weather event, while nearly half (47%) are not worried about something like that.
When asked what types of environmentally friendly actions or activities they do, a majority of North Carolinians told us they: voluntarily recycled newspapers, glass, aluminum, motor oil or other items (63%), reduced their household’s use of energy (62%), tried to use less water in their household (58%), used re-usable shopping bags at the grocery store instead of the standard plastic or paper bags (55%), and replaced standard light bulbs in their home with compact fluorescent light bulbs (53%).
People were divided on some of these actions. A little less than half of North Carolinians said they avoided using certain products that harm the environment (44%). A similar percentage (42%) said they had not done that. Some North Carolinians (44%) say they have bought products specifically because they thought they were better for the environment while pretty much the same fraction (44%) say they have not done that.
Less than one-quarter of North Carolina respondents said they had voted for or worked for candidates because of their positions on environmental issues (24%), contributed money to an environmental, conservation or wildlife preservation group (20%), or signed a petition supporting an environmental group or some environmental protection effort (20%).
Less than one in five North Carolinians say they have been active in a group or organization that works to protect the environment (16%), contacted a public official about an environmental issue (14%), bought or sold stocks or mutual funds based on the environmental record of the companies (14%), attended a meeting concerning the environment (13%), and contacted a business to complain about its products because they harm the environment (12%).
Almost half (47%) of North Carolina residents said they think the condition of the environment for the next generation will be worse than it is now. Less than one-third (29%) think it will be the same and 11% think that the environment will be better for the next generation.
When it comes to addressing climate change, about half (46%) of North Carolinians said they believe the federal government is not doing enough. Only 18% think the federal government is doing enough to address climate change, while one in five (20%) think the federal government does not need to be involved.
Only 21% of North Carolinians think the gas prices they are seeing these days will make it more likely that they will buy an electric car. About one-quarter (28%) said gas prices will make it less likely that they will buy an electric car.
When asked what they think about the environmental movement in this nation, respondents were somewhat split. About 45% of North Carolina residents said they think the movement has definitely done more good than harm (18%) or probably more good than harm (27%). Another third (32%) said the movement has probably done more harm than good (22%) or definitely more harm than good (10%).
North Carolinians are not all that likely to consider themselves environmentalists. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of North Carolina residents do not consider themselves environmentalists, while just under one-quarter (23%) said they would identify themselves that way.
“Timelines and emergencies are a matter of perspective,” said Dr. Christopher J. Fowler, associate professor of chemistry and director of environmental studies. “Climate and environmental scientists have observed changes in Earth’s temperature and climate patterns that generally span over thousands of years now taking place in a much shorter time frame; most notably over the last 40 to 50 years. It seems that most of us are concerned with what we are facing right now or over a handful of years, rather than the longer term impacts human activity has on the planet.”
NC residents – Climate Change (March 2023)
Do you think that climate change is an emergency, or not?
It’s an emergency – 47%
Don’t think so – 39%
Unsure – 14%
NC residents – Global Warming (March 2023)
Which statement comes closest to your view about global warming? Global warming is caused mostly by human activity such as burning fossil fuels. Global warming is caused mostly by natural patterns in the earth’s environment. OR, Global warming does not exist.
Mostly human activity – 35%
Mostly natural patterns – 20%
Does not exist – 10%
Caused by both – 26%
Unsure – 10%
NC residents – Extreme Weather and Climate Change (March 2023)
Do you think that the extreme weather events in the United States over the past few years are related to climate change, or don’t you think so?
Think they are – 55%
Don’t think so – 29%
Unsure – 16%
NC residents – Extreme Weather and Family (March 2023)
Are you worried that you or someone in your family might be affected by an extreme weather event, or is that not something you’re worried about?
Worried – 37%
Not worried – 47%
Unsure – 16%
NC residents – Environment and Generations (March 2023)
Do you think the condition of the environment for the next generation will be better, worse, or about the same as it is now?
Better – 11%
Same – 29%
Worse – 47%
Unsure – 14%
NC residents – Climate Change and the Government (March 2023)
When it comes to addressing climate change, do you believe that the federal government is doing enough to address climate change, not doing enough to address climate change, or is this an issue in which the federal government does not need to be involved?
Doing enough – 18%
Not doing enough – 46%
Does not need to be involved – 20%
Unsure – 17%
NC residents – Environmental Activities (March 2023)
|Which of these, if any, have you, yourself, done in the past year? [Items presented in a random order]|
|Yes, have done||No, have not done||Unsure|
|Voluntarily recycled newspapers, glass, aluminum, motor oil or other items||63||28||10|
|Reduced your household’s use of energy||62||28||10|
|Tried to use less water in your household||58||32||9|
|Used re-usable shopping bags at the grocery store instead of the standard plastic or paper bags||55||37||9|
|Replaced standard light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent light bulbs||53||36||11|
|Avoided using certain products that harm the environment||44||42||14|
|Bought product specifically because you thought it was better for the environment||44||44||12|
|Voted for or worked for candidates because of their position on environmental issues||24||65||11|
|Contributed money to an environmental, conservation or wildlife preservation group||20||71||9|
|Signed a petition supporting an environmental group or some environmental protection effort||20||69||11|
|Been active in a group or organization that works to protect the environment||16||74||11|
|Contacted a public official about an environmental issue||14||75||11|
|Bought or sold stocks or mutual funds based on the environmental record of the companies||14||75||11|
|Attended a meeting concerning the environment||13||77||10|
|Contacted a business to complain about its products because they harm the environment||12||77||10|
NC residents – Electric Cars (March 2023)
Do the gas prices we are seeing these days make it more or less likely you will buy an electric car?
More likely – 21%
About the same – 39%
Less likely – 28%
Unsure – 12%
NC residents – Environmental Movement (March 2023)
All things considered, do you think the environmental movement in this nation has done – definitely more good than harm, probably more good than harm, probably more harm than good, or definitely more harm than good?
Definitely more good than harm – 18%
Probably more good than harm – 27%
Probably more harm than good – 22%
Definitely more harm than good – 10%
Unsure – 22%
NC residents – Environmentalists (March 2023)
Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?
Yes – 23%
No – 62%
Unsure – 16%
The most recent HPU Poll of 1,004 respondents was fielded by the High Point University Survey Research Center on March 23 through March 28, as an online survey using a panel of respondents recruited and maintained by Dynata. Dynata sent invitations to its panel of N.C. respondents and the SRC collected responses on its Qualtrics platform. The SRC did all data analysis. The online sample is from a panel of respondents, and their participation does not adhere to usual assumptions associated with random selection. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assign a classic margin of sampling error for the results. In this case, the SRC provides a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points to account for a traditional 95% confidence interval for the estimates (plus or minus 3.1 percentage points) and a design effect of 1.1 (based on the weighting). The data is weighed toward population estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity and education based on U.S. Census numbers for North Carolina. Factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional errors into the findings of opinion polls.