NEHA March 2024 Journal of Environmental Health

engage in mitigation and adaptation strate- gies. Media attention and communications from thought leaders in the community also influence perceptions of harm. With regard to climate change, however, media coverage aŽects individuals diŽerently based on their political views and the trust placed in the source of information (Marlon et al., 2022). The development and adoption of inno- vative solutions for climate change mitiga- tion and adaptation are also aŽected by the community’s perception of climate change and willingness to act (Marlon et al., 2022). Climate change mitigation and adaptation requires a multisectoral and multidisci- plinary approach that involves individuals, communities, governments, international organizations, and the research community. Despite the development of innovative cli- mate change solutions, adoption has been slow. While these policies have been dicult to enact due to the lack of uniform support across the U.S., bills that incentivize investing in clean energy and mitigating the impact of climate change—such as the Inflation Reduc- tion Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—have been passed recently (Bertrand, 2022; Carmack et al., 2022). Per its mission to support the environ- mental public health workforce, NEHA has prioritized highlighting climate change miti- gation and adaptation strategies and support- ing state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) health departments to develop and imple- ment community climate solutions. NEHA’s membership comprises more than 7,000 environmental public health professionals, many of whom are within STLT agencies. NEHA and ecoAmerica have partnered to build leadership on climate solutions and institutionalize climate action as a health imperative through engaging all leadership, members, and partners within the NEHA community. As part of this partnership, NEHA and ecoAmerica’s Climate for Health program collected data on climate change awareness, attitudes, and behaviors from NEHA mem- bers and the U.S. public as part of the Ameri- can Climate Metrics Survey (ACMS). This survey explores the perceptions of climate change and its eŽects. This article examines certain trends in the ACMS results over the period of 4 years and provides recommenda- tions on how NEHA can provide support to the environmental public health workforce

to implement climate change mitigation and adaptation in their communities. Methods The annual ACMS, conducted by ecoAmerica in collaboration with Lake Research Partners, was administered to a public sample of U.S. adults and a sample of NEHA members in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. The most recent survey for NEHA members was conducted online by ecoAmerica from September 16 to October 10, 2019. In 2019, NEHA had 6,600 members. A sample of 258 self-selected NEHA members participated in the 2019 survey. In the past, this survey received 277 responses in 2016, 383 responses in 2017, and 124 responses in 2018. The most recent national ACMS was con- ducted online in 2019 from September 16–19 and from October 25–28, receiving a total of 1,000 responses. The sample was drawn from respondents who were screened to verify that they were ≥18 years. Additionally, the sample was weighted slightly by region, age, race, and education. The margin of error for the 2019 U.S. public sample was 3.1%, weighted to represent the U.S. We present a summary and general trend analysis of a selection of the survey results across the 4 years of data to illustrate the progress and changes in NEHA member awareness of climate and health issues, how they compare with the results from the U.S. public, and the relevance of this information on climate action and solutions for NEHA members. For the most recent 2019 survey, the data from the selected questions were recoded into dichotomous responses, and a series of chi-square tests for independence (with Yate’s continuity correction for 2 x 2 tables) were conducted on the data to assess diŽerences in how, in 2019, the U.S. public answered the survey questions compared with how NEHA members answered.

the second-largest public health profession, and they intimately know their communi- ties through their work to ensure safe living, working, learning, and recreational spaces through the use of science-based regula- tory methods and practices (National Asso- ciation of County and City Health Ocials [NACCHO], 2019). Despite investments of billions of dollars by federal and state government into clean energy, infrastructure, and protection of the natural environment, limited funding has reached local health departments (Brown, 2022). The environmental public health workforce con- tinues to encounter barriers such as funding, lack of resources, competing priorities, lack of support, and an adversarial political atmo- sphere that often hinders them from taking a more active role in climate mitigation and adaptation (Gould & Rudolph, 2015). Addressing climate change requires the public to collectively perceive climate change as a threat and act in response (Ballew et al., 2019). A majority of people in the U.S. say that they see the eŽects of climate change and believe that action should be taken to reduce the negative impacts of climate change (Tyson & Kennedy, 2020). Public attitudes toward climate change tend to vary based on fac- tors such as region, age, ideology, and gender (Capstick et al., 2015). Identifying climate change as a major threat to health and well- being has significant potential to motivate individuals to take measures to reduce their health risks from expected negative impacts. Another factor influencing perception is the immediate eŽect on an individual from climate change. People in regions that have already experienced frequent extreme weather events might be more likely to per- ceive climate change as a threat due to the high personal impact of these events (Zan- occo et al., 2018). This perception was seen in a 2022 poll of U.S. adults, which found that people who had been aŽected by extreme weather events in the past 5 years were more likely to see climate change as a major issue than were people who have not been aŽected (77% versus 46%, respectively) (National Public Radio et al., 2022). According to Fownes and Allred (2019), sociodemographic and regional factors, along with existing views and politics, are pro- foundly influential to perceptions of harm due to climate change and motivation to


Survey Results: Beliefs and Concerns The percentage of respondents who believed that climate change is happening, for NEHA members and the U.S. public, has remained consistent over the past 4 years, although the percentage is slightly higher for NEHA members than the U.S. public. In 2019, sig- nificantly more NEHA members (87%) than


March 2024 • Journal of Environmental Health

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