A strong majority of Louisiana voters believe in climate change, according to a new poll sponsored by several environmental groups.
About 1,000 “chronic voters” in Louisiana were surveyed by phone for the poll, which was conducted by political consulting firm BDPC LLC + Pinsonat for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition.
Seventy-one percent of respondents said they “believe in climate change.” Of that group, 50 percent said they believe that climate change is having a direct impact on their life. Seventy-two percent of those who said they believe in climate change said they think it “will have a direct impact on future generations in Louisiana.”
Steve Cochran, Campaign Director for Restore, said he expected those numbers to be lower since conversations around climate change in the state have typically been quiet.
"I think [the conversation is] changing, frankly, because of what we've seen,” Cochran said. “Not only coastal impacts, but rainfall extremes all across the state.”
Political consultant Greg Rigamer also expected lower numbers. He suggested the survey's result were indicative of “a fundamental belief that something is changing” among Louisiana voters.
The survey did not ask respondents whether they thought humans were the cause of climate change, but the results are in line with other recent polls. A Gallup poll published this spring found that 53 percent of people in the South believed the effects of global warming had already begun.
Also of note in the Restore poll: 55 percent of respondents were familiar with sediment diversions, which are one of the primary ways the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority plans to build and maintain coastal wetlands in the long-term.
Sediment diversions would use the sediment in the water of the Mississippi River to build land, by funneling part of the river’s flow into nearby degraded marshes.
They’re most controversial in the coastal parishes where the’ve been proposed: Plaquemines and St. Bernard. Many in the commercial fishing industry oppose diversions, claiming the influx of freshwater will negatively impact the brackish estuary where they make their living.
According to the new poll, 68 percent of respondents in those parishes support sediment diversions, with 23 percent opposed. Statewide, 82 percent said they supported diversion projects.
Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.