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Adapting to Climate Change & Sea Level Rise: A Maryland Statewide Survey, Fall 2014

Adapting to Climate Change & Sea Level Rise: A Maryland Statewide Survey, Fall 2014

According to a survey released by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, in conjunction with George Mason University and the Climate Communication Consortium of Maryland, almost three-quarters of Marylanders (73%) say they want their state and local governments to take actions to protect their communities against the impacts of climate change, and more than half (55%) say that protecting coastal areas from sea-level rise should be a high or very high priority for the State’s General Assembly and the Governor.

The survey report is the first of four reports to be released this fall from a survey of over 2,000 Maryland adults conducted this spring. The current report focuses on sea-level rise and its impacts on Maryland, perceived threats to local resources, as well as preferred policies to protect communities in the state.View the full report here.

Key findings include:

A majority support protecting Maryland from rising waters

  • More than half of Marylanders (55%) say that protecting coastal areas from sea level rise should be a high or very high priority for the state’s General Assembly and the Governor.
  • A majority of state residents support policies that protect shorelines and low-lying lands from sea level rise, such as changes to regulations like zoning laws and set-back distances for building (67%), long-range planning (66%), tax incentives to property owners to take protective actions (55%), and using government funds to buy natural areas as buffers against rising waters and storms (55%).

Many Marylanders don’t know that sea level rise is happening locally, or its cause

  • A majority of survey respondents (53%) say that they do not know whether sea level rise is currently happening along Maryland’s shorelines. Of those who state an opinion, more think it is happening (39%) than think it isn’t (8%).
  • More than a third of state residents (36%) say they do not know what is causing sea levels to rise – whether it is from natural causes or human activities. Almost a quarter (23%) say that sea level rise is about equally the result of both natural and human influences on the environment. The rest of Marylanders are split between which of the two are a stronger influence on sea level rise (human activities, 18%; natural changes, 17%).
  • A majority of Marylanders say that climate change is at least partially responsible for sea level rise – at least a little (5%), if not some (22%), or a lot (34%).

There is strong support for state climate protection actions

  • Almost three quarters of Marylanders (73%) say they would like local and state governments to take actions to protect their communities against climate harms
  • Most state residents support a number of policies to protect communities against the effects of climate change, and only a very small percentage oppose them. Increasing trees in urban areas (82%), maintaining and restoring natural areas (80%), and helping Maryland’s farmers become more water efficient (78%) are at the top of the list.

Marylanders see looming local climate changes and impacts to community resources

  • Across the state, hotter weather (77%) and more severe storms (72%) are mentioned the most frequently as likely impacts from climate change that will occur in Marylanders’ communities in the next 10-20 years.
  • Agriculture (56%), people’s health (55%), and coastlines (53%) are the types of resources that Marylanders are most likely to say are at risk from climate change in the next several years.

The survey was fielded from March 17 to June 10, 2014 with a response rate of 35%.