Seven in ten Latinos think global warming is mostly human caused. A May 2017 study was conducted with a nationally representative survey of 2,054 English and Spanish-speaking Latinos to investigate their current climate change knowledge, risk perceptions, policy support, behaviors, motivations, and barriers to political action. Graphic: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

By Anthony Leiserowitz, Matthew Cutler and Seth Rosenthal
27 September 2017

(Yale Program on Climate Change Communication) – Para leer el reporte en español, haga clic aquí.

This report focuses on a critical demographic in the United States – Latinos. Currently 17% of the U.S. population (more than 58 million people) and the second-largest racial/ethnic group in the nation, Latinos are a fast-growing demographic projected to reach 24% of the population by 2065, while non-Latino whites will decrease from 62% of the current population to 46% in 2065. Currently, nearly two out of three Latinos were born in the U.S. (65%), 68% speak English well, while 73% speak Spanish at home (e.g., many are bilingual). Politically, more than 27 million Latinos are currently eligible to vote, and Latinos are already a critical block of voters in local, state, and national elections, especially in swing states such as Colorado, Florida, and Nevada (Pew Research Center).

In May 2017, we conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,054 English and Spanish-speaking Latinos to investigate their current climate change knowledge, risk perceptions, policy support, behaviors, motivations, and barriers to political action.

Overall, we find a very consistent pattern: Latinos are much more engaged with the issue of global warming than are non-Latinos. Latinos are more convinced global warming is happening and human-caused, more worried about it, perceive greater risks, are more supportive of climate change policies, and are more willing to get involved politically. Within the Latino community, we find another consistent pattern: while Latinos, generally, are more engaged with the issue of global warming than are non-Latinos, Spanish-language Latinos are even more engaged than English-language Latinos.

This report is based on findings from two surveys conducted concurrently in the Unites States:

Results for Latinos (including both English- and Spanish-language Latinos) are based on a nationally representative survey of Latinos in the U.S. conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (climatecommunication.yale.edu). For the purposes of this study, Latinos are defined as individuals living in the United States who self-identify as a member of one of the following groups: Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Cuban American, or “some other Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino group.” Interview dates: May 18 – June 8, 2017. Interviews: 2,054 Latino adults (18+). Respondents chose whether to take the survey in English or Spanish. Results are reported for English- and Spanish-language preference according to respondents’ survey language choice. Average margins of error at the 95% confidence level: All Latinos +/- 2 percentage points; English-Language Latinos (1,256) +/- 3 percentage points; Spanish-Language Latinos (798) +/- 4 percentage points. The research was funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Results for non-Latinos are based on findings from a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults – Climate Change in the American Mind – conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (climatecommunication.yale.edu) and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication (climatechangecommunication.org). Interview dates: May 18 – June 6, 2017. Interviews: 1,266 adults (18+), including the 1,140 non-Latinos used in this report. Average margin of error for non-Latinos +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. This study was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the Grantham Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.

Beliefs & Attitudes

  • More than eight in ten Latinos (84%) think global warming is happening, including nearly nine in ten Spanish-language Latinos (88%).
  • Six in ten Latinos (63%) are “very” or “extremely” sure global warming is happening, including seven in ten Spanish-language Latinos (70%).
  • Seven in ten Latinos (70%) understand global warming is mostly human caused, including three-quarters of Spanish-language Latinos (76%). By contrast, only about two in ten Latinos (21%) think it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment.
  • Three in four Latinos (78%) are worried about global warming; one in three (35%) are “very worried”, including 43% of Spanish-language Latinos, who are “very worried”.
  • Half of Latinos (50%) think people in the U.S. are being harmed by global warming “right now,” including nearly two in three Spanish-language Latinos (63%).
  • A majority of Latinos think global warming will cause “a great deal” of harm to plant and animal species (68%), future generations of people (64%), the world’s poor (61%), people in developing countries (55%), or their grandchildren (54%).
  • More than half of Latinos (53%) say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming.
  • About half of Latinos (48%) discuss global warming with family and friends “often” or “occasionally,” including 58% of Spanish-language Latinos.
  • Fewer than half of Latinos (41%) hear about global warming in the media at least once a month or more frequently.
  • Eight in ten Latinos (83%), including nine in ten Spanish-language Latinos (90%), say that global warming is at least “somewhat” important to them.
  • A large majority of Latinos (85%) support schools teaching children about global warming, including more than half (57%) who “strongly agree” that schools should teach children about it.
  • Nearly one in four Latinos say either providing a better life for our children and grandchildren or preventing the destruction of most life on the planet are the most important reasons to reduce global warming (each 23%).

Policy & Politics

  • Three in four Latinos want corporations and industry (77%), citizens themselves (74%), President Trump (74%), and the U.S. Congress (73%) to do more to address global warming.
  • A large majority of Latinos (68%) think the U.S. should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions “regardless of what other countries do.”
  • Eight in ten Latinos (81%) support requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax.
  • Half of Latinos “strongly support” funding more research into renewable energy (55%), regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (50%), or providing tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (48%).
  • Many Latinos are willing to take political action on global warming, including a majority who would vote for a candidate for public office because of their position on global warming (60%). A majority are also willing to join a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming (51%), including 61% of Spanish-language Latinos.
  • Seven in ten Latinos (71%) have never been contacted by an organization working to reduce global warming.
  • Latinos face different barriers to contacting elected officials about global warming, including about three in four (73%) who say nobody has ever asked them, and more than six in ten (64%) say they do not know which elected officials to contact.

Actions & Behaviors

  • One in three Latinos (35%) have rewarded companies for taking steps to reduce global warming by buying their products. Similarly, about one in three Latinos (31%) have punished companies that oppose steps to reduce global warming by not buying their products.
  • A majority of Latinos (57%) intend to buy the products of companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming. Likewise, a majority of Latinos (55%) would punish companies for opposing steps to reduce global warming by not buying their products.

Climate Change in the Latino Mind

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