NEHA March 2024 Journal of Environmental Health


Open Access

Exploring Perceptions on Climate Change Through the American Climate Metrics Survey, 2016–2019

Jesse Bliss, MPH, PhD Roseanne DeVito, MPH Gina Bare, RN Becky Labbo, MA Reem Tariq, MSEH Amy Chang, MS National Environmental Health Association Meighen Speiser ecoAmerica David T. Dyjack, DrPH, CIH National Environmental Health Association

Abstract This article compares perceptions of climate change between the U.S. public and National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) members collected from the annual American Climate Metrics Survey from 2016 to 2019. We analyzed the similarities, di erences, and changes over 4 years regarding climate change beliefs and concerns, harms, benefits and costs of action, and solutions. While both groups had simi- lar climate change concerns, NEHA members were significantly more likely than the public to recognize the harmful impact of climate change on health, prioritize climate action over economic growth, and act on climate solu- tions. NEHA members were also less likely to agree that the costs of acting on climate change are too high. We recommend that NEHA continue supporting the environmental public health workforce through education and training, facilitating cross-sectoral engagement between local partners and community members, and encour- aging participation in programs such as NEHA’s Climate Health and Adap- tation Mitigation Partnership (CHAMP) program and ecoAmerica’s Climate for Health Ambassador Training. Developing resources to help communi- ties understand climate health threats and implement climate solutions is important for NEHA to support due to limited resources available for local environmental public health. Through continued partnerships and collabo- rations—such as our work with ecoAmerica and our engagement with the National Center for Environmental Health within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—NEHA will continue to build the capability and capacity of the workforce so they can be leaders in their jurisdiction’s local climate and health conversation. Keywords: climate change, environmental public health workforce, perceptions, NEHA

that aects a variety of sectors and increases risks for individuals, communities, and the economy (Hwong et al., 2022). Climate change disproportionately aects people of color, children, older adults, and low-income individuals. Socioeconomic inequities can make underserved groups more vulnerable, as they often have the highest exposures and the fewest resources to address them (Fiske et al., 2022). Urgent actions are needed to ensure cli- mate health hazards do not overwhelm the ability of our health systems to protect us (Romanello et al., 2023). To eectively address climate change, communities must implement appropriate mitigation and adap- tation eorts. These eorts are strengthened by actions taken by the general public and the environmental public health workforce. Understanding the perception of climate change is important for the National Envi- ronmental Health Association (NEHA) to be able to provide support for the environ- mental public health workforce to address climate health threats in their communities. Climate change directly aects environmen- tal public health sectors such as air qual- ity, water quality, emergency response, and food safety. Environmental public health professionals are viewed as trusted sources of guidance on protocols and systems that protect water quality, ensure food safety, safeguard indoor air quality, and mitigate vectors (National Environmental Health Partnership Council, 2017). The environ- mental public health workforce is well- positioned to collaborate with community partners and members to enact climate miti- gation, adaptation, preparedness, response, and recovery (Shezi et al., 2019). They are

Introduction Climate change is the single most important challenge and threat facing humanity (Watts et al., 2015). Climate change negatively aects human health through air quality, extreme heat, drought, wildfires, extreme storms, floods,

and vectorborne illnesses. There is strong sci- entific evidence to justify anthropogenic cli- mate change and its detrimental impacts on ecological and human health systems (Tam et al., 2021). The impacts of climate change are interrelated, making it a threat-amplifier


Volume 86 • Number 7

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