Yesterday Fox News ran a segment on a yet-to-be-released poll by the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research. The poll states that 48 percent of “Americans wouldn’t be willing to pay even a penny more for gasoline” to combat global warming.
Fox jumped on the poll to fearmonger on the costs of combating climate change, saying any mitigation effort “is going to be painful” and framing it as a standoff between Congress and the American people:
The United States is a signatory to this UN climate change initiative, and Congressman John Dingell of Michigan says we have to come into compliance and do something, and the way to do that is to cause pain to people. If we want to stop global warming, and it’s an urgent situation like many claim it is, it’s going to be painful. [...]
But what we’re finding of course — and here’s the conflict: the American public is not going to take this lying down, and that’s where the conflict is going to come later on.
Fox’s report is — unsurprisingly — flawed for many reasons. The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, the global warming bill expected to reach the Senate floor this summer, does not call for a gasoline tax. The bill features a cap-and-trade system that would gradually reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Though the bill does cover the transportation sector, it does not propose that the government impose a tax on gasoline.
In fact, even the Stephen-Johnson-led Environmental Protection Agency admitted in a report last week that cap-and-trade would barely affect economic growth, confirming many other estimates that show combating global warming is affordable. What’s more, the EPA report did not even take into account the economic benefits from emissions reductions, the enormous cost of inaction, or the significant greenhouse gas reductions already in place due to the 2007 energy bill.
Fox’s insistence that “the public won’t take this lying down” is particularly disingenuous. A BBC poll from November showed that 83 percent of the 22,000 people surveyed in 21 nations said they were willing to make changes in their lifestyles to address global warming. Closer to home, a 2007 poll found that 78 percent of Americans believe we must take action “right away” to mitigate the effects of climate change.