After being on the political backburner for much of the election season, climate change and what the U.S., its politicians and businesses should do in response, could become a major focus of the campaign, according to a new poll released Thursday.
Based on a survey of 1,008 adults, 18 and over, conducted March 12-30 by Yale and George Mason University (margin of error +/- 3 percent at 95 percent confidence level), here are a taste of the findings:
– 72 percent of Americans think climate change should be a priority for both the president and Congress, with 12 percent saying it should be a very high priority, 28 percent, high and 32 percent medium.
– 92 percent think developing clean energy sources should be priority for the president and Congress, with 31 percent rating it a very high priority, 38 percent high and 32 percent medium.
– 58 percent say that Congress should be doing more to address climate change, while 54 percent say President Obama should be doing more to address climate change.
– 83 percent think that protecting the environment either improves economic growth and provides new jobs or has no effect on jobs and growth.
– 79 percent support funding more research into renewable energy such as wind and solar.
– 55 percent said climate change will be a key issue in determining their vote for president this year, with 3 percent saying it would be the single most important issue and 52 percent saying it would be one of several important issues for them.
Pundits and political analysts are already pronouncing climate change and energy as this election’s wedge issues, and President Barack Obama looks to be getting ahead of the curve in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, which came out earlier this week. Responding to a question about the Keystone XL pipeline, the president staked out his position on climate change.
“Part of the challenge over these past three years has been that people’s number-one priority is finding a job and paying the mortgage and dealing with high gas prices. In that environment, it’s been easy for the other side to pour millions of dollars into a campaign to debunk climate-change science. I suspect that over the next six months, this is going to be a debate that will become part of the campaign, and I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we’re going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way. That there’s a way to do it that is entirely compatible with strong economic growth and job creation – that taking steps, for example, to retrofit buildings all across America with existing technologies will reduce our power usage by 15 or 20 percent. That’s an achievable goal, and we should be getting started now.”
Romney’s position on energy, which barely mentions wind and solar or climate change, can be found in his platform. A recent article on the GreenTech Media website gives a quick rundown.
What I find most interesting is his blind spot on green jobs and energy. Here’s what he says about the connection between jobs and energy production.
“Producing more domestic energy would create good jobs and bolster local economies in a wide variety of energy-producing regions that effectively ‘export’ their product to the rest of the country. While countless jobs are engaged in the actual energy-production process, they are a small fraction of the full workforce that benefits. For instance, before the first barrel of oil is pumped out of the ground, entire industries are hard at work creating the equipment and providing the services used in drilling, production, and the long chain of supporting industries that brings energy from inside the earth to the consumer.”
It doesn’t seem to occur to him that solar, wind and other renewables have similar material value chains stretching across the country and renewable projects create secondary jobs and economic activity in local economies.
Obama’s focus on sustainable energy and jobs is an “unhealthy obsession,” while his focus on fossil fuels and unraveling environmental regulations is not?
In the meantime — if you are at the intersection of Palm Canyon and Alejo tomorrow (Saturday) at about 11:45 a.m., you may run into a flash mob of dancing polar bears — or people dressed up as polar bears dancing.
The event, which will run a scant 15 minutes, is part of a national chain of dancing bear events organized by the Sierra Club to protest Shell Oil’s plans to start drilling for oil this summer in the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas—home to the entire population of U.S. polar bears.
Find out more on the Sierra Club’s Chill the Drills web page.