Survey Reports on Climate Change, Energy, Transportation, and Public Health in Maryland

The George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) released three reports in October 2016 with survey findings on Marylanders' opinions on climate change, public health and energy sources, and their attitudes towards current or proposed policies that relate to these topics. The reports include:

  1. Public Perceptions of Climate Change
  2. Public Knowledge, Behaviors & Preferences about Energy & Transportation
  3. Public Health, Energy & Climate Change

The reports show that climate changed is perceived as a real issue, and at a higher rate in Maryland than to the nation as a whole. They also found that:

  • Climate and energy are high priorities in Maryland, but not as high as jobs and air and water quality.
  • Support for renewable energy is high and perceives traditional sources of electricity, like coal, as harmful to people’s health.
  • Overwhelming majorities of Marylanders report feeling that their personal health and wellness are at least at minor risk because of climate-related conditions, such as air pollution, extreme heat or polluted drinking water.
  • Half of Marylanders are not familiar with the term “smart grid,” although many embrace elements of smart grids and other smart technology.
  • Marylanders favor government action to protect communities against the effects of climate change.

The reports also underscored areas where education, communication and outreach efforts can help address several issues:

  • Energy education – Most people perceive fossil fuels as harmful, but many do not know where their electricity comes from.
  • Policy and economic impacts – Most people are unaware of Maryland’s energy policies and unsure of the economic impacts of those policies.
  • Climate change consensus – Despite that more than three-quarters of all Marylanders say they believe climate change is happening, they do not perceive the public having the same high levels of agreement on the topic.
  • Include underserved communities – Health impacts of climate change and energy production disproportionately harm low-income and minority communities.

The study was funded by the Town Creek Foundation. Karen Akerlof from George Mason University led the project with co-investigators Cindy Parker and Peter Winch, both from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?
— Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland