Apr 28, 2020 - Energy & Environment

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

Ben Geman, author of Generate

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."

Go deeper

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

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Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.

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The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Google got a reputational boost at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, but that respite from criticism proved brief. They're now once again walking a minefield of regulatory investigations, public criticism and legislative threats over antitrust concerns, content moderation and privacy concerns.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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