Public opinion


Californians Stand By Call for Climate Action

…though most remain clueless about the state’s imminent cap-and-trade program

Wind turbines in Solano County. 78% of Californians polled favor federal support for renewable energy.

Much has been made lately of Berkeley physicist Richard Muller’s recent “conversion” to the position that global warming is both happening and stoked by human activity.* But it turns out that the controversial scientist and author has been playing catch-up.

In a statewide survey released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), 60% of Californians polled said that the effects of global warming have already begun. Asking the question in a slightly different way, both the Brookings Institution and the Pew Center for People & the Press found that in 2011, 60% and 63% of Americans, respectively, believed that there was solid evidence that global warming is happening.

Californians took it a step further, however, with nearly three-in-four of the 2,500 participants responding that government should take steps to “counter the effects of global warming right away.” PPIC conducted the survey in July and it includes responses in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Continue reading

Poll Suggests Obama Should Come Out in Support of Climate Action

Most Americans want government to do something about climate change

The majority of Americans want the government to take action on climate change, but the majority is shrinking.

Two polls in as many weeks find that the majority of Americans support government policies to shift to cleaner energy. According to the first, conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, nearly three-out-of-four Americans (72%) think climate change should be a priority for Congress, and 70% want corporations and industry to do more to address climate change.

The second, conducted by Stanford, finds that though they’re still a majority, the proportion of Americans who support climate change policies, versus those who don’t, has dropped by ten percentage points since 2010.

Despite the diminishing support, social psychologist Jon Krosnick, who directed the Stanford poll, says politicians stand to benefit by addressing climate change head-on.
Continue reading

Survey: Waning Support for Alternative Energy Among Westerners

Meanwhile, support for mining and drilling has gone up

Wells stretch to the horizon in a Wyoming gas field. A recent Pew survey found increased support in the West for expanded gas and oil drilling.

As gas prices surge, support is waning for alternative energy sources, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center released last week. The decline has been particularly pronounced in the western U.S., a region characterized in previous surveys by strong support for alternative energy.

Ebbing enthusiasm for alternatives, according to the survey, is coupled with greater support for “traditional” gas and oil development. In a survey last year conducted by Pew, 73% of Western respondents said they supported increased development of alternative energy, while only 19% were in support of increased development of traditional sources such as oil, gas and coal.

Fast-forward a year. With the price of gas nationwide averaging close to $4 per gallon – up nearly 9% from the same period last year – the percentage of respondents in support of alternatives declined by 20 percentage points, whereas support for expanding mining and drilling jumped by 20 points, to 39%.

Continue reading

BK Franchise Serves Up Some “Baloney”

I know: This didn’t happen in California, so why mention it? Well, sometimes stories come in that just seem to crystallize the persistent (some polling would suggest growing) public division over climate change and this is a good example.

When signs on Burger King outlets started opining that “Global warming is baloney,” a Memphis reporter decided to check it out. His exchanges with the local burgermeister and the parent company make for pretty amusing reading.

Interesting that while polls taken within the last year have indicated flagging faith in the prevailing view of climate scientists that the world is warming, a spring poll by the Pew Research Center showed 59% of Americans supporting some kind of cap on carbon emissions. Though still sharply divided along party lines, that could indicate that some kind of reluctant consensus is forming around the issue.