How Does Your City Rate at Altering Lifestyles to Combat Climate Change?

Workers install solar panels (Sullivan Solar)

Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach residents are among the most prepared Californians to make significant lifestyle changes to help combat climate change, while people in Orange are among the least interested in doing so, according to a new survey.

Sandbar Solar, a Santa Cruz-based solar installation company, polled 3,500 people nationwide to gauge if they would be prepared to make significant lifestyle changes, such as eating less meat or driving their cars less, if it helped to stop, slow or reverse global climate change. (To the cynics out there: Yes, that is a pretty small sample size.)

The survey concluded that 59 percent in Orange County would embrace the lifestyles changes. When the Weekly asked if that could be broken down by city, Sandbar Solar produced a list with these percentages.

Fountain Valley 80%
Huntington Beach 80%
Santa Ana 70%
Anaheim 63%
Garden Grove 50%
Irvine 50%
Orange 20%

Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Santa Ana surpass (and Anaheim barely misses) the California average of 64 percent. The national average is just over half at 52 percent, which just goes to show Garden Grove, Irvine and especially Orange really suck. Especially Orange at 20 percent: The worst state is Kansas at 28 percent.

The results for California do not surprise the survey takers.

“[P]roud to be known as a more progressive state, Californians have always embraced alternative lifestyles, such as veganism and the legalization of marijuana,” reads their supporting statement. “In 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law which mandates that the state obtain all of its electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2045. He also issued an executive order calling for the entire California economy to become carbon-neutral by 2045. Californians have unfortunately had to bear witness to the effects of global warming, with many experts attributing it to the recent forest fires.”

Those most willing to change lifestyles in the Golden State are in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara (both at 89 percent), whereas Visalia residents, at a measly 14 percent, appear the least concerned Californians about combating climate change.

When asked specifically about what lifestyle changes they would make, 43 percent of respondents nationwide reported they would consider cutting down on meat and 71 percent would consider driving their cars less. Two thirds, or 66 percent, said they try to cut down on their energy use, such as turning off lights not being used and powering down their computers after work. At 65 percent, almost as many Americans said they lower water usage by turning off the tap when brushing teeth. And a whopping 84 percent replied they try to reduce their use of plastic in every day life.

“However, there seems to be a fair deal of misunderstanding around the topic, too: 58 percent of people did not correctly identify the scientific community’s widely-assumed causes of global warming (farming, burning fossil fuels and deforestation),” say the survey takers. “Instead, 44 percent think it is due to cyclical weather patterns, 7 percent think the sun is getting hotter and 7 percent think the Earth is moving closer to the sun.

“Lastly, 66 percent of people have never researched how they could save on bills by using alternative sources of energy.”

Naturally, Sandbar Solar President Scott Laskey has the answer for them: “Solar energy reduces global demand for fossil fuels and makes it easier for people to shrink their carbon footprints. There are many incentives and financing options available for homeowners to help them make the switch to solar.”

Click here to see how each state compares on Sandbar Solar’s interactive map.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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