Adapting to Climate Change and Sea Level Rise: A Maryland Statewide Survey, Fall 2014

This public survey report addresses the perception of climate adaptation and sea level rise in Maryland. This study was conducted by George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to explore Marylanders’ views on public health, energy and the environment.

This report is the first of four that will be released from the 2014 survey. This report focused on Maryland’s perspective of sea level rise and climate adaptation, and the additional reports to follow will represent their attitudes, behaviors and policy preferences regarding public health and climate change, energy, and climate change generally.

More than 183,000 people, 116,000 homes, $42 billion in property value and 3,400 miles of roads in this region of Maryland sit on land less than 5 feet above local high tide lines and are at risk for increased flooding in the next few decades (according to a different report from Climate Central). Despite these serious risks, the survey revealed that a majority of Marylanders (53%) do not even know whether sea level rise is currently happening.

Other results demonstrate greater awareness in which 73% of Marylanders do say they would like local and state governments to take actions to protect their communities against climate harms, and 55% say that protecting coastal areas from sea level rise should be a high or very high priority for the state's General Assembly and the Governor.

The survey indicates that changes to regulations and long-range planning are the most preferred policy responses. According to the report, when presented with a list of five strategies for protecting communities from sea level rise impacts, Marylanders are more supportive than not of all of them, with majorities backing four of the five approaches: changes to regulations like zoning laws and set-back distances (67%), long-range planning (66%), tax incentives to property owners to take protective actions (55%), and using government funds to buy natural areas as buffers against rising waters and storms (55%).

 

Publication Date: September 15, 2014

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