NEW BRUNSWICK Nearly three quarters of New Jerseyans are concerned with how climate change may affect the state and two thirds of those of those people say Hurricane Sandy and other recent storms changed their views on climate change.
And while nearly three quarters of New Jersey residents believe in some way that the government needs to take steps to fortify housing, roads, bridges and other critical components of society to be more resilient to stronger storms or more extreme weather, few are willing to pay for it.
This is the crux of a new poll released Wednesday by the Edward J. Bloustein School for Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University during a conference exploring climate change and how the state and its residents and businesses can adapt to coming changes.
“These numbers are telling me that the distance between the individual resident and the implications of climate change has closed,” said Bloustein professor Michael Greenberg The poll surveyed 1,750 people on various questions involving climate change, rebuilding issues following Sandy as well as questions concerning whether the government should impose land use restrictions in flood-prone neighborhoods.
Greenberg found that nearly 85 percent of those surveyed supported in some way local government measures to require those rebuilding in flood zones to do so such that their houses are more resistant to future floods. “This is an amazingly high number,” Greenberg told the nearly 250 people in the room.
The poll also found that nearly 84 percent support in some way governmental measures to identify areas that should not be developed so that the land can act as storm buffers and about 80 percent support government financial incentives for home and business owners so they can flood-proof buildings.
But while support for new policy and efforts was strong, New Jerseyans were opposed to nearly every measure to pay for efforts. Of five potential ways to create consistent funding that would pay for projects to rebuild infrastructure or even housing to better withstand extreme weather events, less than a quarter supported those that raised taxes. A multibillion dollar bond issue had support by about 42 percent of those surveyed and a special 1 percent increase to hotels and recreation facility taxes had support by 53 percent of those surveyed.
Greenberg also found that while there was strong support for scientists who are predicting climate change effects, confidence is significantly lower that state and local government officials understand the risks climate change poses to communities. Additionally, Greenberg said, confidence is lowest for how the media communicates climate change issue.