Photo: OC Firewatch @OCFireWatch
Orange County residents are concerned about wildfire, its smoke and pollution and the impact on their personal and economic well-being. In a new survey conducted in August, more than 80 percent said they were concerned about wildfires (81%) and smoke and pollution (85%). Seventy percent felt wildfires were a serious threat to their “personal and economic well-being.”
The heightened concern about the environment in this poll is a reflection of the extreme weather events of the last two years that have shifted the perception of climate change. Its impact was seen in the future, “problems for grandchildren” and far away affecting “polar bears or glaciers”. Now the problems appear immediate and near home. The drought and impact on the Colorado River is here and now. The wildfires of the last two years were brought home by the abandonment of California by property insurers.
The Lahaina devastation in August dramatized human impact. Even last year’s snow and rain providing drought relief was extreme, bringing floods. The survey was conducted with 1,000 adult Orange County residents by Ciruli Associates and YouGov using its panel and online platform. The survey, conducted from July 20–August 27, 2023, had a margin in error of ±4.8 percentage points. The survey was sponsored by COAST, an association of Orange County fire agencies and conservation groups created to assist in the prevention and mitigation of wildfires.