This is a guest post by CAP’s Daniel J. Weiss.
Today’s new Washington Post-ABC News Poll demonstrates yet again that the American people want action to “regulate the release of greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to reduce global warming.” Respondents supported this statement by more than two to one (65 percent favor, 29 percent oppose). This poll was conducted December 10-13, at the height of the trumped up brouhaha over stolen emails from a British climate research institution. These findings are consistent with the Associated Press-Stanford University poll released on Tuesday.
The WP-ABC poll found that three of five Americans would support reductions in greenhouse gas pollution even it “raised your monthly expenses by 10 dollars a month.” And 55 percent would still support reductions if it “raised your monthly energy expenses by 25 dollars a month.”
These are amazing results during the worst recession in 70 years:
Three federal government estimates predict that households would have an overall “purchasing power loss” of $7 – $13 per month, which includes all goods and services, not just energy costs. And none of these estimates include the economic benefits of action, or the huge costs of inaction. In other words, the poll shows that the projected costs of domestic global warming pollution reductions are well with in the range of the amount that two-thirds of the public are willing to pay.
Household Cost Estimates of American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454
|Study||Average Household Purchasing Power Impact per month|
|Congressional Budget Office||$13|
|Energy Information Administration||$12|
|Environmental Protection Agency||$7|
As Climate Progress documents nearly every day, the scientific debate over the existence of global warming has been settled, despite what Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and other climate deniers might claim. Every day there is new data or evidence that global warming is here and having an impact on our planet. The only questions are the speed and severity of the impacts, and whether humans can promptly reduce their global warming pollution enough to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.
Despite this scientific consensus, big oil companies and global warming deniers are doing their best to undermine this scientific consensus by raising questions in the public’s mind about scientific uncertainty. The media has allowed this debate to focus on distractions like the stolen emails, converting the discussion to a case of “he said, she said,” rather than cover the much more relevant global warming threat and economic opportunities. The strategy of raising enough questions about settled science to cause public uncertainty is the same approach the tobacco industry employed for years to prevent adoption of restrictions on tobacco use even though scientists and doctors determined that smoking cigarettes cause cancer and other serious diseases.
The WP-ABC News poll reflects the partial success of this strategy. It found that 36 percent of respondents believe that “most scientists agree with one another about whether or not global warming is happening,” while 62 percent “think there is a lot of disagreement among scientists on this issue.” One could theorize that this could reflect the effectiveness of deniers’ efforts to use the stolen emails to undermine the public’s acceptance of the global warming consensus.
Interestingly, there is little evidence of this occurrence. The public’s perception of the degree of scientific agreement has varied relatively little over the last dozen years. Various polls have asked this question over the last twelve years, and the answers ranged from 30 to 40 percent who believe that there is scientific agreement, while 56 to 67 percent believe there is not consensus. And the numbers are identical in a 1997 Ohio State University poll and this new WP-ABC poll – 35-62 percent in the former, and 36-62 percent in the latter.
Despite the public’s uncertainty about scientific agreement, they still overwhelmingly favor action. Half the respondents in the WP-ABC poll “strongly” believe that the government should require pollution reductions, while only one fifth of respondents strongly oppose such action. (50-20 percent)
The just released Washington Post-ABC poll yet again reinforces that Americans overwhelmingly want the government to reform our energy programs to create jobs, cut pollution, and increase American energy independence. It’s up to the United States Senate to respond to this vox populi early in 2010.
Related posts on polling:
- New CNN poll finds “nearly six in 10 independents” support cap-and-trade (October)
- Yet another major poll finds “broad support” for clean energy and climate bill: “Support for the plan among independents has increased slightly” (August)
- 63% of likely voters (and 59% of independents) in AK, AR, IN, ME, MI, MO, MT, NC, NV, ND, NH, OH, PA, SD, VA, WV support the bill (see here, from September)
- Public opinion snapshot: Public backs key elements of global warming bill (July)
- Zogby: 71% of likely voters support House climate bill (August)
- Mark Mellman must read on climate messaging: “A strong public consensus has emerged on the reality and severity of global warming, as well as on the need for federal action” “” ecoAmerica “could hardly be more wrong” (May)