Think about this article — descriptively titled "Legislature flooded with bills about climate crisis; poll driven politicians see need to tackle global warming" — the next time you get an email asking you to call or email your representative on an environmental issue. You keep it up long enough and they get it:
Few issues are hotter in the Capitol this year than global warming.
Lawmakers have introduced more than 60 bills on the topic, and no wonder. Polls show widespread support among California voters for tackling climate change. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian NÃºÃ±ez received rock star-like affection worldwide for their work on landmark greenhouse gas legislation last year. And there is a seemingly infinite number of policy directions the state could take to lower carbon emissions.
“It’s become an apple-pie issue,” noted Darry Sragow, a longtime Democratic strategist in California. “It’s like being for better schools.”
Strategist Sragow notes that in 2002 he asked focus groups about climate change issues, and most people weren’t that interested.
“All of the men thought the Toyota Prius was too girly — a toy car,” he said about the hybrid that has now become ubiquitous on California roads.
Fast forward to last year, when a Public Policy Institute of California poll showed that 70 percent of likely voters thought the state government should do something about climate change.
“There aren’t many public policy topics that poll that well,” said Mark Baldassare, director of the Institute.
Popularity is power. The key is in translating it into policy.