After sweltering heat waves melted records and as wildfires continue to displace residents across the province, a recent poll suggests British Columbians are the most concerned about climate change in Canada.
An Abacus Data poll that surveyed 1,500 Canadian adults in mid July explored what impact, if any, the recent extreme heat and wildfires across the country had on the public’s concern about climate change.
A warming planet and the impacts that come with it are top of mind for people in B.C.
The survey found 52 per cent of Canadian respondents are extremely or quite concerned about climate change, with B.C. (55 per cent) the most concerned region. B.C. respondents led all provinces with 32 per cent saying they’re extremely concerned, while just 23 per cent elsewhere agreed.
Three in 10 Canadians found themselves becoming more worried about climate change in the weeks before they were surveyed – which aligns with the soaring temperatures and wildfires raging in B.C. Over a third of B.C. respondents stated they’ve become more, or much more concerned in recent weeks, more than the second-highest province Alberta (30 per cent), and the overall Canadian figure (29 per cent).
The poll asked respondents if they think climate change will negatively impact several aspects of society and to what extent. In five of six categories, the proportion of British Columbians who feel it will have negative impacts was greater than every other region.
Those categories included the ability to grow food, the health of people who live in areas most impacted by climate change, the life expectancy of the poor, the cost of healthcare and infrastructure damage caused by extreme weather.
Half of Canadians don’t feel climate change is affecting their health, but worry about its impact on future generations, the survey found. The number of people who felt climate change is directly impacting their health (due to poor air quality, extreme heat, higher risk of floods, forest fires or storms) hit 35 per cent in July – up from 30 in December 2020. That five per cent difference would account for about 1.5 million Canadians.
Eclipsing every other region again, British Columbians led the way with 43 per cent saying they felt their health was directly threatened from climate change.
Abacus said the poll had a margin of error of 2.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20, and it weighted data according to census data to ensure the respondent sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment and region.
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