Apr 28, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Americans worried about climate change more likely to wear masks amid coronavirus pandemic

People wearing face masks.

Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Americans worried about human-induced climate change report wearing face masks in public in substantially higher percentages than people who are not concerned about it, per a new Morning Consult poll.

The big picture: 54% of adults who are concerned about climate and agree with the scientific consensus on human causation said they "always" wear a mask over the past month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • In contrast, among adults who say they're not concerned about climate change, the share who self-report always wearing a mask drops to 30%.
  • "This trend was replicated across questions on social distancing and disinfecting, though with somewhat smaller margins," they report in a story alongside the polling conducted in mid-April.

Why it matters: While correlation is not causation, Morning Consult quotes experts who see some psychological overlap between views on climate change and behavioral responses to coronavirus.

What they're saying: Emma Frances Bloomfield, an expert in science communication and controversy with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sees several potential reasons for overlap.

  • "These include a general skepticism of authority — specifically authority associated with science, health and medicine — as well as an outlook concerned more with individual than community-level well-being," they report in a summary of her comments.
  • Ed Maibach, a George Mason University expert on public opinion on climate, says the difference may be related to partisan divides in views on both climate and the pandemic.

Methodology: "The poll surveyed 2,200 U.S. adults and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points. The climate-concerned and climate-unconcerned cohorts have 3- and 4-point margins of error, respectively."

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