Increasing number of members supports steps to address climate impacts
Nearly nine in 10 Trout Unlimited members acknowledge that climate change is happening, and three in four are worried about global warming, according to the third in a series of surveys conducted by TU’s Climate Change Workgroup.
The latest survey shows a steady uptick, with 89 percent of members saying that climate change is real versus 78 percent in 2014.
Survey results suggest that we’re making progress in building awareness about how rising temperatures, more frequent flooding and more intense wildfires are already altering our coldwater fisheries.
At the same time, the responses indicate that we need to do more to mobilize members in support of national policies to address climate change. In this Congress, TU has been working to pass the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which would rely on market mechanisms to substantially reduce carbon emission by at least 40 percent over 12 years.
Who’s behind the survey?
The climate change awareness survey, which was conducted in May via email, was prepared by the National Leadership Council’s Climate Change Workgroup with help from TU staff and Yale University. Our workgroup is composed of about 20 active participants, including NLC representatives, TU staff, one member of the TU Board of Trustees, and rank-and-file members.
Since 2013 the workgroup has been producing educational materials that highlight the risks climate change poses to trout and salmon fisheries.
We are building on the foundation of TU’s bread-and-butter conservation work to protect trout and salmon habitat—work that also helps communities adapt to a changing climate by addressing the risks of more intense floods, forest fires, and drought.
On behalf of my partners on the workgroup, I want to thank the thousands of members who completed the survey. We are proud of the effectiveness of this “One TU” approach, which is at the heart of TU’s most effective work.
What did we learn?
Here are a few high points from the survey:
- More than 85 percent of TU member respondents think climate change is either caused by humans or is the result of a natural cycle intensified by human activity. This is up from 64 percent in 2014 and 77 percent in 2017.
- About 80 percent of members expect that climate change will lead to extreme heat, droughts, wildfires, severe storms and degraded coldwater habitat.
- Over 40 percent have recently noticed a decline in their fishing experience.
- Members support a wide range of steps our country can do to mitigate climate change, but only 77 percent of respondents were familiar with TU’s position and national activities around climate change, suggesting that we have some work to do in building support for legislation to address the problem.
- Members trust national TU staff (88 percent) and TU scientists (89 percent) above other sources when seeking climate change information.
For the first time, we interpreted data by age. We confirmed that those under age 45 have an extraordinarily strong interest in the impacts of climate change. As our organization grows and evolves, climate change will continue to be a critical issue.
The results of our climate change survey are encouraging and show strong support for TU’s climate change work as a priority. They will help us as we advocate for smart climate policy on Capitol Hill, and as we apply for conservation grants to support our outreach work on this issue.
To learn more about how you can help, please contact the climate change coordinator in your chapter or council, or visit the workgroup’s website.
Jeff Witten of Columbia, Mo., is a member of TU’s Board of Trustees.