The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University released their survey of the public (as of September 2012) in a bi-annual report. A staggering 92% of Americans say the President and Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a priority. The full report can be seen here.
|The cover for the new report.|
For the record: I have been working with the Center for Climate Change Communication and Climate Central on the segment at WLTX called Climate Matters. I am a co-author of two papers now undergoing peer-review with these two organizations. In addition, the two organizations have been supportive of this blog by occasionally supplying information and graphics. However, I have not been involved with this survey project.
The two groups at Yale and George Mason have been tracking public opinion for some time. In addition, they have surveyed the opinions of broadcast meteorologists. This survey is a continuation of the public survey and is a snapshot of the opinion as of September 2012.
• Nearly all Americans (92%) say the president and the Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a “very high” (31%), “high” (38%), or “medium” priority (23%). Very few say it should be a low priority (8%).
• A large majority (77%) say global warming should be a “very high” (18%), “high” (25%), or
“medium” priority (34%) for the president and Congress. One in four (23%) say it should be a
• Six in ten Americans (61%) say the U.S. should reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions
regardless of what other countries do.
• A large majority of Americans (88%) say the U.S. should make an effort to reduce global warming, even if it has economic costs. A plurality (44%) favors a medium-scale effort, even if it has moderate economic costs. One in four (24%) supports a large-scale effort even if there are large economic costs. And one in five (19%) supports a small-scale effort, even if it has small economic costs.
• Americans say that corporations and industry (71%), citizens themselves (66%), the U.S.
Congress (60%), and the President (53%) should be doing more to address global warming.
• Majorities also support funding more research into renewable energy sources (73%), providing tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (73%), regulating CO2 as a pollutant (66%), eliminating all subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry (59%), and expanding drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast (58%).
• These policies, however, have seen declining support over the past several years. Since 2008, support for funding research on renewable energy sources is down 19 percentage points, expanding offshore drilling is down 17 points, regulating CO2 as a pollutant is down 14 points, and tax rebates for the purchase of energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels is down 12 points.
• Eight in ten (78%) say that in the future, the United States should use renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal much more or somewhat more than we do today.
• Over half (54%) also say that in the future, the U.S. should use much less (26%) or somewhat less (28%) fossil fuels than we do today.
• At least half of Americans say they would vote for a candidate who supports a revenue neutral carbon tax, if it created more American jobs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries (61% would support such a candidate), decreased pollution by encouraging companies to find less polluting alternatives (58%), or was used to pay down the national debt (52%).
• Asked who has influence on elected officials’ decisions about global warming, Americans think the big players are large campaign contributors (50% say they have “a lot” of influence) and fossil-fuel companies (42%). Fewer think renewable energy companies (23%), environmentalists (22%), or climate scientists (20%) have a lot of influence on elected officials.
• Large majorities of Democrats (81%) and Independents (77%) say the president and Congress should make the development of clean energy sources a high or very high priority; nearly half of Republicans agree (46%).
• Most Democrats (61%) and Independents (61%) say the United States should use less fossil fuel in the future. By contrast, only 38 percent of Republicans say the United States should use less fossil fuel in the future.
• Democrats are more likely to “strongly support” funding more research into renewables (41%), offering tax rebates to those who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (40%), and regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (33%) than Republicans.
• Republicans are most likely to “strongly support” the expansion of drilling off the U.S. coast
(41%). Relatively few Democrats (10%) strongly support offshore drilling.
• Across party lines, Democrats (83%), Independents (85%), and Republicans (71%) say the U.S. should use more renewable energy sources (solar, wind, and geothermal) than we do today.
Politicians face a fiscal-cliff and a climate-cliff. The former is dangerous in the short-run, while the latter is a danger in the long-run. Both of these must be solved, but the public will likely have to demand action.