New Poll Shows North Dakota’s Divided Views on Climate Change

2023 was the hottest year ever recorded since tracking began nearly 200 years ago. It also beats the previous warmest year, 2016, by a record margin, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This year’s January was also the warmest ever recorded, with February on track to take the record as well.

Meanwhile, a new poll conducted by WPA Intelligence and the North Dakota News Cooperative finds that a majority of North Dakotan’s believe natural patterns play a part in the rise of global temperature. The poll found that 38% of respondents believed the warming was due to natural changes in the environment. 26% of respondents believed warming was due primarily to human activity. 27% viewed it as a combination of the two.

The divide was visible along party lines with 66% of Democrats and 10% of Republicans agreeing that the cause was due to human activity. 59% of Republicans and 4% of Democrats agreed with the cause resulting from natural changes.

The poll also found that 43% of respondents thought climate change is a serious problem and poses a threat to one’s future life. The partisan divide continued here with 87% of Democrats and 26% of Republicans agreeing.

North Dakota has lagged behind in the transition to renewable energy sources. Last year, only 6% of North Dakota’s energy production came from renewables, compared to 20% nationally. This is due in large part to the state being the third-largest crude oil producer in the country.  Governor Burgum told the North Dakota News Cooperative in 2021 that being carbon neutral by 2030 is an “aspirational goal, not a mandate,” but has made no plan to facilitate this goal.

2023 was the hottest year recorded. Graph by Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Although, there are “natural causes are still in play today, their influence is too small or they occur too slowly to explain the rapid warming seen in recent decades,” according to NASA. The annual rate of increased carbon emissions into the atmosphere in the past 60 years is about 100 times faster than previous natural warming periods, such as the warming that ended the Ice Age, according to NOAA.

The poll also looked at how North Dakotan’s viewed electric vehicles. 85% of those polled said they probably wouldn’t buy an electric vehicle for their next purchase. North Dakota is set to receive $25.9 million in federal money to expand electric charging stations throughout the state, but first along I-94 and I-29.

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