A new survey conducted by George Mason University and Yale Project for Climate Change, find that Americans rank global warming as the 10th most important national priority out of 11. This is in line with a Gallup Poll from last week that found the same.
Though global warming concerns are limited in comparison to the economy, people still want the government acting to limit pollution and emissions. The survey also found large support for renewable energy, with 92% of those polled saying they support more funding for research on solar and wind power.
We read these surveys as have your cake and eat them too. Lots of people say one thing in a survey, but do another thing in reality. Do we really trust that 79% of the public would be willing to lay out an additional $1,000 for a car that got better fuel milage? Of course not. The plummeting sales of hybrids shows this to be false.
However, these surveys are useful, inasmuch as they show that the public thinks that protecting the environment is important. When stripped of political spinning, we want to protect the planet. Which means whoever wins the looming battle on cap and trade will probably have told a more convincing story to the public.
Here’s some results of the survey. The full study can be downloaded below, if you’re interested in these things, it’s loaded with cool charts and data:
- 92% supported more funding for research on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power
- 85% supported tax rebates for people buying energy efficient vehicles or solar panels.
- 80% said the government should regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant
- 69% of Americans said the United States should sign an international treaty that requires the U.S. to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90% by the year 2050.
Large majorities of Americans also supported policies that had a directly stated economic
cost. For example:
- 79%supported a 45 mpg fuel efficiency standard for cars, trucks, and SUVs, even if that meant a new vehicle cost up to $1,000 more to buy;
- 72% supported a requirement that electric utilities produce at least 20 per cent of their electricity from wind, solar, or other renewable energy sources, even if it cost the average household an extra $100 a year;
- 72 per cent supported a government subsidy to replace old water heaters, air conditioners, light bulbs, and insulation, even if it cost the average household $5 a month in higher taxes.
- 63% supported a special fund to make buildings more energy efficient and teach Americans how to reduce their energy use, even if this cost the average household $2.50 a month in higher electric bills.
At the time of the survey, nationwide retail gas prices were approximately $3.25/gallon and energy had become a major issue in the presidential campaign. Within this context, respondents also supported a variety of other energy policies:
- 75% supported the expansion of off shore drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast.
- 61% supported the building of more nuclear power plants.
- 57% supported drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
- Only 33%, however, supported increasing taxes on gasoline by 25 cents per gallon and returning the revenues to taxpayers by reducing the federal income tax.
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