What do public support for clean energy and global temperatures have in common?
A: They both keep going up despite the anti-science, pro-polluter echo chamber.
Joseph Romm recently noted the Earth is stuck in a “Groundhog Decade … where it’s always the hottest decade on record.” Temperature data from NOAA demonstrates that the ’00’s were warmer than the ’90’s, which were warmer than the ’80’s, and so on. The data points in one direction: the Earth continues to warm.
Analogously, public opinion data on global warming also points in one direction: Americans support investments in clean energy and want action to reduce global warming pollution. Poll after poll finds majorities support these measures, despite the worst economy in 80 years, and $100 million and growing of big oil and coal advocacy to defeat clean energy and global warming legislation.
Two just-released polls reiterate public support for clean energy and global warming pollution reductions. One is a nationwide poll by Yale University and George Mason University. The other is a poll of Massachusetts voters taken immediately after Republican Scott Brown was elected to the U.S. Senate to replace the late Democrat Edward Kennedy. This poll found that a majority Brown voters support reductions in global warming pollution.
“Climate Change in the American Mind,” is a survey by the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. They surveyed 1,001 adults from Dec. 24, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 3 percent.
When asked whether they “support or oppose regulating carbon dioxide … as a pollutant,” 73 percent said yes, with only 27 percent opposed, including 61 percent of Republicans. This was more than the 67 percent who supported “expanded offshore drilling” or the 49 who wanted to “build more nuclear power plants.” And strong support outpolled strong opposition by 3-2. These overall results are similar to a December 2009 Washington Post-ABC News poll.
|ALL Sup. %||ALL Opp %||Dem Sup %||Dem Opp %||Ind Sup %||Ind Opp %||Rep Sup %||Rep Opp %|
|“Support or oppose regulating carbon dioxide … as a pollutant?||73||27||92||9||66||34||61||39|
|“Cap and trade system … support or oppose.”||58||42||78||22||56||44||43||57|
|“Support or oppose requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20% of their electricity” from renewables “even if it cost the average household an extra $100 a year”||57||43||69||31||56||44||44||56|
|“Support or oppose building more nuclear power plants”||50||50||44||56||52||49||57||43|
|Support or oppose “building a nuclear power plant in your local area”||43||58||36||65||40||51||42||58|
|ALL More Jobs %||ALL Cost Jobs %
|Dem More Jobs %||DemCost Jobs %||Ind More Jobs %||Ind Cost Jobs %||Rep More Jobs %||Rep Cost Jobs %|
|“Protecting the environment improves economic growth and provides new jobs” vs. “Reduces economic growth and costs jobs.”||68||33||86||14||64||36||55||46|
|ALL Env %||ALL Econ %||Dem Env %||Dem Econ %||Ind Env %||Ind Econ %||Rep Env %||Rep Econ %|
|“Protect the environment even if it reduces economic growth” vs. “Economic growth even it leads to environmental problems”||62||38||77||23||59||41||45||55|
The poll found that respondents support a cap-and-trade system by 58 percent to 42 percent. This includes the support of 43 percent of Republicans. The overall results are nearly identical to the results of a poll of battleground states conducted by President Obama’s 2008 pollster Joel Benenson [PDF].
Fifty-seven percent of respondents want the United States to “reduce its greenhouse gas emissions … regardless of what other countries do.” This is a strong result given that the mainstream media unfairly trashed the Copenhagen Accord one week before the survey was taken.
There is much more support for renewable electricity than nuclear power, which equally divided respondents. And of course, support for “building a nuclear power plant in your local area” was overwhelmingly opposed even by Republicans.
This skepticism about nuclear power contrasts with the Obama Administration’s proposals to triple nuclear power loan guarantees in 2011. If half the projects default on these loans (the default rate identified by the Congressional Budget Office in 2003 [PDF]), there could be some very unhappy taxpayers.
Like psychics reading tea leaves, there have been many guesses about the views of the Massachusetts voters who supported Scott Brown in his upset special election victory. Some senators (sub. req.) — mostly those already opposed to global warming legislation — claimed that Brown’s victory was a vote against bipartisan, comprehensive clean energy legislation. In fact, a majority of Brown’s voters support global warming legislation.
Joel Benenson, President Obama’s pollster in 2008, conducted a poll of 500 Massachusetts special election voters [PDF] from Jan. 25-27, a week after the election. Respondents were asked whether they supported a bill “that limits pollution and greenhouse emissions through what’s been called a ‘Cap-and-trade’ plan and also invests in clean, renewable energy sources in America.”
- 67 percent of voters supported legislation; only 21 percent opposed
- Independents supported legislation by 61 percent to 26 percent
- A plurality of Republicans supported legislation by 47 percent to 38 percent
- Half of Brown voters supported legislation by 50 percent to 36 percent
Respondents were asked whether Brown should “support this bipartisan energy bill so we stop spending a billion dollars a day on foreign oil” or “should stand with Republicans in Congress to block the Democrats’ agenda of massive liberal tax and spend programs like this $660 billion cap and trade bill.”
- 61 percent of all voters wanted Brown to support a bipartisan energy bill, while only 25 percent urged that he block it.
- They Among Brown voters, 44 percent wanted him to support the bill, while 41 percent urged obstruction.
Benenson found that “more than any other top priority, voters want their recently elected Senator to focus on ‘making America more energy independent.'”
Some politicians shy away from casting tough votes for fear of a negative public reaction. Contrary to many pundits, and despite an unprecedented scare campaign by big oil, opinion polls should strong public support for global warming legislation that should elicit a positive public reaction. The Yale-GMU and Massachusetts polls demonstrate yet again that there is strong public support for comprehensive, bipartisan clean energy and global warming legislation. Senators must ignore big oil to pass legislation that creates jobs, make America more energy independent, enhances national security, cuts pollution, and increases our economic competitiveness.