Healthy People-Healthy Planet Poll: Michigan residents’ concern about climate change increases

September 27, 2018 - HRCC

Healthy People-Healthy Planet Poll: Michigan Residents’ Concern about Climate Change Increases

EAST LANSING, Mich. –– Results from the Healthy People-Healthy Planet (HP2) Poll, found that for a second straight year, a majority of Michigan residents were more concerned about the risks of climate change than the economic risks associated with policies to address climate change. The representative online poll of 1,000 Michigan residents led by Michigan State University’s Health & Risk Communication Center (HRCC) also found that nearly half of respondents thought that the Line 5 pipeline in the Mackinaw Straits should be removed, and the vast majority thought that the state should take policy action to stop algae blooms in the Great Lakes.

“These new results reinforce and deepen our understanding of how Michigan residents feel about the environment,” said study lead Dan Bergan, Associate Professor in MSU’s Department of Communication. “People care about economic development, but not at the expense of environmental quality.”

When asked, “Which of these statements comes closer to your view, even if neither is exactly right: Protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth to some extent OR Economic growth should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent;” 67 percent said that the environment should be given priority. This is an increase from 59 percent when a similar question was asked in the spring of 2017, also from the HRCC. Responses to this question differ starkly by vote choice: 90 percent of people who reported voting for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election said that the environment should be given priority, versus only 41 percent among those who reported voting for Donald Trump.

The survey also asked about issues particular to the Great Lakes and Michigan. A large majority (79%) favored having the state of Michigan require limitations on fertilizer use to reduce algae blooms in the Great Lakes. A plurality (46 percent) responded that Line 5 should be removed. Similar to the question about climate change, responses about these issues were related to vote choice in the 2016 presidential election. Most Clinton voters (89%) supported policy to deal with algae blooms, as did 71% of Trump voters. Almost two thirds (63%) of Clinton voters favor shutting down Line 5, versus only about one quarter (26%) of Trump supporters.

“Even with the big difference by how people voted, we’re seeing a consistent attitude about the importance of the Great Lakes and environmental policy to people who live here,” said Professor Maria Lapinski, Director of the HRCC, Similar public opinion results have been reported from Illinois residents.”

The HRCC, an interdisciplinary center with over 50 faculty affiliates, supports and facilitates research on health, risk, environment, and science communication. It is home to the Health and Risk Communication MA program and it’s Iris Scholars Program translates research findings into practice. For more information on the HRCC or the study, including an executive summary and data tables, visit The survey was paid for by the HRCC and the Department of Communication both of which are in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.