Sunday, April 22, 2007

Poll on global warming shows greater US awareness

Edit: Due to some problems with tables in the template (which didn't show up in the preview), I've changed the layout of the post a little, but the information is still the same.

A new Washinton Post/ABC News/Stanford University poll on global warming shows that there has been an increase in the number of Americans who believe in global warming, and who thinks it is an important issue.

Growing Number of Americans See Warming as Leading Threat (Washington Post)

A third of Americans say global warming ranks as the world's single largest environmental problem, double the number who gave it top ranking last year, a nationwide poll shows.

In the new poll, conducted jointly by The Washington Post, ABC News and Stanford University, most of those surveyed said that climate change is real and that they want the federal government to do more about it. But the survey also shows there is little public agreement about the policies the United States should adopt to address it.

The Washington Post article is somewhat misleading, but I'll get more into that later.

ABC News also covers the story:
Concern Soars About Global Warming as World's Top Environmental Threat

After a year of increasing scientific alarms, public concern about global warming has risen dramatically. The number of Americans identifying it as the world's single biggest environmental problem is double what it was a year ago.

Climate change now places far ahead of any other environmental problem in the public's mind; 33 percent now cite it as the world's top environmental issue, a very high level of agreement on an open-ended question. That's soared from 16 percent a year ago. The related issue of air pollution ranks a distant second, cited by 13 percent, with all other mentions in the single digits.

As you might have noticed, there is quite a difference in the tone of the two articles. Something that Rob over at climatespin has a take on it.

Now, back to the Washington Post article, and how it is misleading. The poll data can be found here, and I decided to take a look on what people said in response to what policies should be adopted in the US.

From the data it is clear that an overwhelming majority is opposed to increasing taxes on electricity and gasoline (79% and 67% respectively). On other suggested policies, more people are positive.
When asked if certain policies should be required by law, encouraged by tax breaks or if the government should stay out, the following results came out.

a. Building cars that use less gasoline
Require: 42%
Encourage: 44%
Stay out: 14%
No op.: 1%

b. Building air conditioners, refrigerators and other appliances that use less electricity
Require: 36%
Encourage: 43%
Stay out: 19%
No op.: 1%

c. Building new homes and offices that use less energy for heating and cooling
Require: 30%
Encourage: 51%
Stay out: 17%
No op.: 9%

d. Lowering the amount of greenhouse gases that power plants are allowed to release into the air
Require: 62%
Encourage: 26%
Stay out: 10%
No op.: 3%

Notice something? There is an overwhelming majority on all issues that the government should either require or encourage all those policies. On question (d) there is even a majority for requiring it.

Other questions about policies were also asked on the form Would you support or oppose a law in your area (READ ITEM)? How about a law (NEXT ITEM)?

a. (IF ONLY RECYCLE SOME ITEMS OR NONE AT ALL) requiring household trash recycling
Support: 74%
Oppose: 25%
No op.: 1%

b. requiring low-flow showerheads?
Support: 59%
Oppose: 36%
Already required: 1%
No op.: 4%

c. requiring all newly installed toilets to be low-volume toilets
Support: 71%
Oppose: 24%
Already required: 3%
No op.: 2%

d. requiring the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs
Support: 56%
Oppose: 41%
No op.: 3%

e. requiring supermarkets to use shopping bags made of paper or other material that can be recycled
Support: 82%
Oppose: 16%
No op.: 2%

Except for requiring the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs there is a significant majority supporting each of the laws asked about.

So, no, there is the survey doesn't show that there is "little public agreement about the policies the United States should adopt to address it". US citizens oppose taxation on fuel and power, but they are overwhelming positive towards all other suggested policies.



Blogger Trinifar said...

This is really encouraging. If I could pick one to improve, it'd be getting more people to chose "require" when it comes to building cars that use less gasoline.

April 23, 2007 8:27 AM  

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