GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Wherever they live in the state, two-thirds of New Jersey residents believe climate change is a crisis or a major problem, and an even larger group believe it is affecting the state now, according to a Stockton University poll released Monday.
“We wondered whether those living near the water would feel differently about these issues than residents throughout the state,” said John Froonjian, interim director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton. “But there was broad agreement across New Jersey. On almost every question, results in coastal areas were within a few percentage points of the statewide responses.”
Among those who believe climate change is currently affecting New Jersey, 64% believe climate change is caused mainly by human activity and burning fossil fuels. Twenty-seven percent believe it is a natural occurrence.
More than half (56%) said government could or should do more to address climate change, and 31% said the government response is totally inadequate. Just 10% said the government response has been strong and appropriate.
"That shows the public is ahead of the politicians on this issue, and is actually leading them," Froonjian said. "The public is clearly concerned and wants government to be doing more on this issue."
There were significant differences by party, gender and age, with 92% of Democrats, 64% of independents and just 35% of Republicans saying it is a crisis or major problem.
Among women, 72% of women said it's a major problem or crisis, while 64% of men did so. Young people are the most concerned about the issue, with almost 80% of respondents ages 18 to 29 seeing it as a crisis or a major problem, in contrast to 70% of those over 65.
Flooding in the coastal zone of the state is a significant or serious problem to 72% of those polled. Just over half would support local construction projects to reduce the threat of flooding, even if they had to pay higher taxes or fees; and 68% would support limiting or restricting construction next to beaches and the ocean.
The telephone poll of 807 adult New Jersey residents was conducted from Sept. 18 to 29, by the Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5% statewide and plus or minus 4.1% coastal.