Yet another major poll finds strong public support for global warming action, “even if it means an increase in the cost of energy”

The drumbeat of public support for comprehensive clean energy and global warming policies beats louder every day.  The latest Wall Street Journal-NBC Poll found overwhelming support for comprehensive clean energy legislation that includes carbon pollution reductions.  It also registered that cleaning up the BP oil disaster and energy reform is the number two priority of Americans.  Finally, it registered another drop in support for the expansion of offshore oil drilling.

CAP’s Daniel J. Weiss has the details:

The WSJ-NBC poll was conducted by respected pollsters Bill McInturff (R) and Peter Hart (D).  McInturff was John McCain’s presidential pollster in 2008.  The survey was conducted June 17-21, 2010 – after President Obama’s Oval Office address on the oil catastrophe and clean energy reform.  There were 1,000 respondents, and the margin of error was +/- 3 percent.

Respondents favored comprehensive energy and carbon pollution reduction legislation by 63 percent to 31 percent – a two to one margin.

Do you support or oppose an energy proposal designed to reduce carbon emissions and increase the use of alternative and renewable energy sources, even if it means an increase in the cost of energy? (IF SUPPORT/OPPOSE, THEN ASK) And, do you strongly (support/oppose) or just somewhat (support/oppose) this?

Strongly support 36%
Somewhat support 27%
Somewhat oppose 14%
Strongly oppose 17%
Not Sure 6%

Significantly, strong support for this legislation was double the strong opposition.

The reality of the BP oil disaster has likely led to far greater concerns about energy policy now than they were last month.  When given a list of issues “that have been proposed for the federal government to address,” Americans expressed the second most  concern about the “Gulf Coast oil spill and energy,” trailing only “job creation and economic growth.”

Job creation and economic growth 33%
The Gulf Coast oil spill and energy 22%
The deficit and government spending 15%
National security and terrorism 9%
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 9%
Health care 7%
Social issues such as abortion and same sex


Other (VOL) 2%
All equally (VOL) 3%

Americans are increasingly skeptical about offshore oil drilling.  In both May and June polls, respondents were asked

When it comes to oil drilling off U.S. coasts, which of the following statements comes closer to your point of view?

Statement A: The potential harm to the environment outweighs the potential benefits to the economy.

Statement B: The potential benefits to the economy outweigh the potential harm to the environment.

The results show a 14 percent drop in support for offshore oil drilling in just a single month.  This is big swing of public opinion.

6-10 5-10
A/ Harm to environment outweighs economy 48% 41%
B/ Benefits to the economy outweighs environment 46% 53%
A little of both (VOL) 2% 1%
Not sure 4% 5%

As Senate Democrats gather this afternoon to discuss energy and climate policies, they should remember that Americans strongly support action.  This is evident in poll after poll that conclusively demonstrate that Americans want comprehensive energy reform that includes real reductions of global warming pollution.  This is true even when respondents are told that it would cost jobs or increase energy prices.  With such a supportive public, it’s time for senators still hiding in the shadows to come into the sunlight and support comprehensive reform.   The American people are with you.

— Daniel J. Weiss

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18 Responses to Yet another major poll finds strong public support for global warming action, “even if it means an increase in the cost of energy”

  1. Prokaryote says:

    CNN BP Alaska a ‘ticking time bomb’

  2. mike roddy says:

    Thanks for the poll. Many of us always suspected that Congress’ failure to advance serious energy legislation was not a matter of “politics”, but rather one of “money”. Campaign contributions are just the tip of the iceberg. Dangling six figure lobbying jobs in front of Congressmen after they leave office is worse, and nobody knows how much cash changes hands on DC. If oil companies will fund black ops and knowingly endanger workers and watersheds, there is very little that they are not capable of. It’s time we took our country back.

    Thanks for the CNN link, Prokaryote. If ever a company deserved to BK, it’s this one.

  3. fj2 says:

    Regarding: “Statement A: The potential harm to environment outweighs the potential benefits to economy.”

    It is crucial that environmental and economic issues be understood as closely aligned.

    Nature provides everything.

  4. SecularAnimist says:

    You know, looking at these poll results tells me that it’s a good thing we have the US Senate to protect the profits of the fossil fuel corporations against the public interest.

    Why, without their foot-dragging and outright obstructionism, we might have phased out fossil fuels years ago, in time to actually prevent the climate catastrophe that is now virtually locked in by those years of accelerating CO2 emissions. Think of the hundreds of billions of dollars in profit that would have been lost to the fossil fuel corporations.

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    Crowds in The Streets of Los Gatos!

    (What it takes to get people energized and motivated these days.)

    I just returned from my morning coffee. Along the way back, I passed along the main street of the small town of Los Gatos, where I live. A huge crowd lined the sidewalks, and that was at 9 AM.

    I counted the crowd, person by person. 380 people, all in two long lines. That figure is not one of those inflated political figures or rough police estimates. I counted — person by person. 380 is the number.

    Were they marching out of concern about climate change? No.

    Were they marching about the mess in the Gulf and about our oil addiction? No.

    Were they marching about the mess on Wall Street? No.

    Well then, why were all those folks there, in the streets of Los Gatos, at 9 AM?

    Aha! They were in line to buy the new GSG (gizmo-status-gadget) from Apple, the iPhone-model-whatever.

    Not only that: An Apple person told me that the line had started forming late yesterday morning and that the store had opened early today — 7 AM — to handle all the people. 380 people were in line at 9 AM, but how many dozens, or hundreds, had already gotten the goodies?

    380 people is about 380 more people than I have ever seen, in Los Gatos, at any climate event or anything having to do with climate and energy. And, it’s more people than I have ever seen at ANY climate or energy event I’ve ever attended except for two: the EarthDay rally in Washington DC, and the main 350 rally in downtown San Francisco. At that rally, the number of people was probably about the same as adding the lines at five Apple stores together.

    Something’s gotta change.



  6. Bill W says:

    A couple of points:
    1) the poll didn’t even ask about addressing climate change as a priority. Why not?

    2) people are apparently conflicted on oil. As Joe noted, in Q29a 48% said the environmental cost of offshore drilling outweighs the benefit. Yet, in Q28, 53% support more offshore drilling. Huh? Of course, they only asked Q29a of half the respondents.

  7. Raul says:

    scientists say that the oil on the water of the Gulf is
    pollution. Do the oil companies know where they put the
    emergency plan?
    Scientists say that the pollution is bad in the air too.
    Have the coal and fuel companies even made up a emergency
    Those questions are probably too difficult for the
    companies and the people and the countries to
    consider though.

  8. Raul says:

    Gee if they were so lacking in their own house plans
    maybe they would have built a igloo and said they
    had done it right, in outdoor Florida.
    Maybe, they put the right plans in the trash compactor
    and took the advertising blitz instead.
    Gee, maybe they should call on an outside contractor
    to find the right emergency plans for the Gulf.
    Tony must have left it somewhere.
    In the main beyond pollution office?

  9. Raul says:

    Oh yeah, they are thinking of making an emergency
    plan for atmospheric pollution.
    Years ago, it seemed an average day this time of year
    might only be 89 degrees for the high.
    Today it was saying 94 degrees again.
    Oh yeah, new discussion about true temps.
    Well, where did they put that emergency plan.

  10. Christopher Yaun says:


    Harald Rohracher from the Alphen-Adria University in Austria is speaking to about 100 people at MIT about Passive House in Austria.

    Passive House is a rigorous energy standard for home energy consumption and allows 120kwh per square meter per year ( primary energy, not final metered consumption and equal to about 38,000btu/sqft/year).

    Austria has built approx 10,000 Passive Homes in the past 15 years.

    I live in such a house in Portsmouth NH.

    Passive House uses less than 10% of the energy of and energy star home and can be built for standard construction cost, using standard construction materials.

    The is a grassroots revolution. If you are building new or renovating exisiting home please join the revolution.


  11. Prokaryote says:

    A Passive (aggressive!) approach to energy use

    This November, Build Boston features a comprehensive exploration of the Passive House standard by those who have helped it succeed in Europe and those on the forefront of its emergence in North America.

    To whet the industry’s appetite for learning more about this cutting-edge approach to design and construction, the BSA recently sat down with Dr. Harald Rohracher, who was visiting from Austria’s Alpen-Adria-University, and Paul Eldrenkamp, of Byggmeister and the DEAP Energy Group, to discuss Austria’s great success in adopting the Passive House standard and how Massachusetts can emulate it.

  12. Raul says:

    A development action for EV charging stations could
    be having a data rider in the exchange of energy to
    the EV. So that when the EV is plugged into the
    charger it transmits id data to the station verifying
    use and payment automatically reducing questions
    concerning who or what plugged into the charger.
    Could be a way forward.

  13. Christopher Yaun says:

    Prokaryote? How did we manage to write the same comment a few minutes apart? Chris

  14. Prokaryote says:

    I read your comment and was about to ask you about a link, when i thought to google, and found something :)

  15. Leif says:

    Chris, @14: It is called “Hyper Space.” Weird things happen. Electrons effect electrons far away at the same time. Particles pop out from no where and go away. Perhaps a regeneration of the “LOVE” generation. (Admittedly a bit intense for “main stream” America, but that is another story.) Where we all join hands rationally assess the dangers, take a deep breath, and start to solve problems. Without worrying about who gets their half out of the middle.

    The OIL covered Gulf, I feel, will affect the thinking of middle America the way Acid did in to the 60s. Very profound.

    Perhaps “good” will win over the Dark Side just this once, when it really matters!

    Weird things happen…

    Great effort to both of you.

  16. Prokaryote says:

    Lucas has attributed the origins of “The Force” to a 1963 abstract film by Arthur Lipsett, which sampled from many sources.

    “ One of the audio sources Lipsett sampled for 21-87 was a conversation between artificial intelligence pioneer Warren S. McCulloch and Roman Kroitor, a cinematographer who went on to develop IMAX. In the face of McCulloch’s arguments that living beings are nothing but highly complex machines, Kroitor insists that there is something more: “Many people feel that in the contemplation of nature and in communication with other living things, they become aware of some kind of force, or something, behind this apparent mask which we see in front of us, and they call it God.”

    When asked if this was the source of “the Force,” Lucas confirms that his use of the term in Star Wars was “an echo of that phrase in 21-87.” The idea behind it, however, was universal: “Similar phrases have been used extensively by many different people for the last 13,000 years to describe the ‘life force,'” he says.

  17. Prokaryote says:

    Your Genetics Incline You to Respond to Surveys

    A very interesting article from the Journal of Organizational Behavior[1] suggests that genetics play a role in predicting if you’ll respond to surveys. Over 1000 twin pairs were contacted through the Minnesota Twin Registry, and it was found that 45% of the variance in survey response behavior could be explained by genetic differences.

    Thompson, Zhang and Arvey were able to investigate this because of a unique advantage; they already had access to genetic information before sending the survey out. By comparing people with predictable genetic differences (or even identical genes) raised in different households, they were able to extract the proportion of variability in survey responses predictable from differences in genetics. The value? 45% (a correlation of .67). Likelihood of survey response (at least to a leadership survey) seems to be substantially heritable.

    The implication of this? There is at least some biological basis for non-response to surveys. This means that the MCAR/MAR/NMAR distinction must be made even more carefully, as any characteristic with a genetic basis (and there are many) might be correlated with non-response, biasing the results from any survey on those characteristics.