TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In the latest installment of Jeff’s Climate Classroom, he interviews Dr. Colin Polsky, the researcher behind the Florida Climate Resilience Survey. The survey is conducted twice per year and is designed to gauge Floridians’ views on climate change.

New survey results are due any day, but past results may be surprising to some.

Floridians have a better overall acceptance of the reality of climate change than many others across the nation.

For instance, belief in climate change among Florida adults has climbed to more than 90%, including 84% of self-identified Republicans. Nationally, 74% of respondents think global warming is happening, and only 61% of moderate Republicans (46% of conservative Republicans), according to the latest Yale-George Mason Poll.

In terms of understanding that humans are the cause of climate change, in the newest survey a strong majority of Floridians believe that climate change is largely human-caused at 65%. Nationally the understanding that humans are behind climate change is only 56%.

Another statistic seems to contradict recent moves by Florida to allow climate denial/ disinformation videos into the state education curriculum. 71% of Floridians (57% of Republicans) now endorse teaching the science of climate change in K-12 classrooms, according to Polsky’s survey.

When compared to national surveys, Floridians exhibit less partisanship on climate change than other Americans.

Polsky says are a few possible reasons: First he says, younger Republicans are largely the reason for this difference. Secondly, Floridians with a university diploma exhibit about 10 percentage points higher belief in, and concern about, climate change than survey respondents with a high school diploma. 

In addition, he says personal, recent familiarity with climate events is high with at least 40% of Floridians reporting some level of negative impact from flooding or hurricanes in the past 12 months. Personal concern with climate is likely a strong influencer, with 50-70% of Floridians expressing moderate or extreme concern about Florida’s future patterns of different climate events. 

Polsky says the amount of time living here is also a factor. In the latest survey, 15% of respondents are “new” to Florida, meaning they have lived here for five years or less. Newer arrivals exhibit a slightly higher level of belief in human-caused climate change. 

Colin’s takeaways: “Public opinion among Florida Republicans on climate issues are more favorable than those of Republicans at the national level. Republican elected officials in Florida have invested more than $1.4 billion in climate resiliency, contrary to conventional wisdom. Reaching more Republicans on climate issues requires less condescending and manipulative messaging in favor of more dialogue that includes being open to true listening.”