If scientists are right, climate change will have a serious impact on our collective health and well-being. We’ll see the physical and mental effects of floods and extreme weather. We’ll see diseases spread by water, food, and insects. And, most perversely of all, climate change will exacerbate health problems already faced by the weak and the poor.
You wouldn’t know it from talking to most Americans. Many people have little understanding of the possible health implications from global warming, according to a new survey from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.
The poll found that six in 10 people have given the health consequences of climate change little or no thought. Some 43% couldn’t name a possible health impact, and only a third said, correctly, that global warming will have unequal impacts depending on location and how well places have adapted.
Roughly a third of respondents said air pollution will get worse where they live, while 37% said there will be more cases of asthma and other lung diseases. Just 27% think their own health will be harmed over the next decade.
The survey, part of the “Climate Change in the American Mind,” is based on responses from 1,275 adults ages 18 and over. Previous research identified six personality types when it comes to climate change–from the “alarmed” to the “dismissive.” The groups say messages around climate change need to be tailored to pre-existing beliefs, so, a climate message around health effects may not be that effective, at least with more than half the population.