Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU environmental survey: 90% of Floridians acknowledge climate change

An FAU study found 90% of Floridians believe in climate change. Florida has taken some action and FAU Student Government aims to do the same.
Photo courtesy of Zion Dugan
Bulldozer on Deerfield Beach

FAU’s Center for Environmental Studies (CES) partnered with the Business and Economics Polling Initiative for a recent survey and found virtual unanimity — 90% of Floridians believe climate change is taking place.

The Florida Climate Resilience Survey, provided in both Spanish and English and has run since 2019, has the goal of gauging Floridians’ views on their preparedness and resilience to climate hazards. The last installment of the survey shows that 57% of Floridians believe humans cause climate change.

Colin Polsky, the director of the CES, described the statistic as a surprise due to current world events. Polsky explained the prominence of world events can cause people to think less about climate change.  

Polsky added that this shifts in the opposite direction when things such as the prominence of oil are among the leading headlines as they have a connection to the climate issue.

At FAU, there is an opportunity to bring awareness to the climate issue within Student Government.

Student Government Chief Justice Benjamin Cohen said the Student Senate created the Sustainability Action Committee as a university-wide SG program in 2022. According to Cohen, the committee will be composed of students from all three campuses and has professional staff members and faculty as advisors.

The chair of this committee is the director of Sustainability and will be appointed by the sitting SG President, Dalia Calvillo, and to sit on the President’s Cabinet. This position is currently vacant, therefore there is no sitting Sustainability Action Committee. According to Calvillo, the committee will be fully operational after a student applies for the director position.

The Director of Sustainability will be responsible for interviewing and appointing students to participate in the Sustainability Action Committee, which aims to “propose environmentally conscious and sustainable solutions to improve the University’s commitment to sustainability,” said Cohen. The FAU House of Representatives must confirm these students.

Calvillo said the chair should be “…someone who is passionate about climate change and starting to create change on our campuses.”

She would love to see applicants for the currently vacant position. The best way to get involved now is to contact Calvillo directly.

Polsky explained there are, too, natural components to climate change, like natural variability, the variation in the statistical analysis of the climate on all scales.

Polsky described an example of natural variability called El Niño, a climate pattern of unusual warming of surface waters in the Eastern Pacific. Warmer surface waters lead to the expansion of the oceans and thus create rising sea levels, which can be detrimental to Floridians, especially those living on the coasts. 

The Florida Climate Resilience survey shows that 69% of Floridians want to see action at the state level but does not mention any specific actions.

In December 2021, Florida released the first Statewide Flooding and Sea-Level Rise Resilience Plan. It details a list of priority projects the state may fund to protect the natural defenses against rising sea levels.

Polsky said that there are government-designed alternative energy and transportation incentives. For example, Florida has toll relief programs for drivers, such as exemption from tolls when carpooling. According to Polsky, these programs can lead to fewer vehicles on the road and less greenhouse gas emissions.

The survey suggests Floridians continue to push for government action against climate change. However, many do not agree with this should it limit their personal freedoms. 

Florida has been experiencing higher temperatures as the year progresses.

Polsky mentions the difficulty of combating the climate issue, especially considering college students and the reality that they cannot always avoid things like fuel use. However, he also encourages things like switching to a lower meat diet. 

“Agriculture is a major source [of greenhouse gas emissions] and included in that is livestock production, so a lower meat diet is lower in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Polsky.

In addition, some FAU students have taken the initiative to live more sustainably. 

“I use reusable plastic, and I have an electric bicycle to ride everywhere for no gas and emissions towards the environment,” said Makila Powell, a freshman psychology major.

Amira Kattaria is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information on this story or others, contact her at [email protected]. 


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