Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Yet another public policy survey shows most Idahoans believe climate change is real, underscoring one of the most glaring disconnects of any issue between Idahoans and the politicians they elect to represent them.
Climate change understanding has long been a minority-held belief in the Idaho Legislature, where only small numbers of Republicans join just about all Democrats in subscribing to global climate disruption phenomena. Deny as they might, those rejecting climate science continue to bump up against the prevailing views of most Idahoans on the subject.
According to the new Boise State University School of Public Service Public Policy Survey, when asked whether environmental protection or job creation and economic growth should be the priority in Idaho, 25 percent answered environmental protection and 68 percent said job creation and economic growth. Sounds concerning at first, but consider that a noteworthy 92.5 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: “Too often public policy debates in Idaho are all or nothing conversations with one side saying we have to protect the environment and the other saying we have to grow the economy. The truth is, this is a false choice. Idaho can have economic development while still protecting the environment.”
Asked whether they believe climate change is happening, 68.6 percent said it is and among that group females were more likely to agree, as were younger Idahoans. Some 92 percent of Democrats agreed, as did 73.7 percent of independents and 52.3 percent of Republicans. Regionally, climate change belief registered among 72 percent of those in Boise, 76.9 percent in Ada County, 64.4 percent in Canyon County, 63.5 percent in the Idaho Falls market, 65.9 percent in the Spokane market, and 72.6 percent in the Twin Falls market.
Drilling deeper, 44.9 percent said that, regardless of whether they believe climate change is happening, it is more likely to be caused by human activity and natural causes, while 26.6 percent said natural changes in the atmosphere, and 26.1 percent said human activity is mostly to blame. Asked whether they are very concerned, 29.8 percent said they were, compared to 40.3 percent saying they were somewhat concerned and 29.5 percent not at all concerned.
The BSU Public Policy Survey of 1,000 adults was conducted Jan. 11-15, 2016, and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent. BSU said the sample included 39.2 percent self-identified Republicans, 36.5 percent independents, and 17.4 percent Democrats. It was conducted among all adults, not likely or registered voters, and about 40 percent of the respondents were contacted via their cell phone numbers.