What Global Warming Split?

Bill Scher

The New York Times analyzes its own environmental poll, and concludes, “Public Remains Split on Response to Warming.” But on the poll questions (PDF file) that relate to actual proposals in Congress, the public isn’t split at all. For example:

  • 92 percent favor “requiring car manufacturers to produce cars that are more energy efficient.”
  • 75 percent are “willing … to pay more for electricity if it were generated by renewable sources like solar or wind energy.”
  • 64 percent would “pay higher taxes on gasoline and other fuels if the money was used for research into renewable sources like solar and wind energy.”
  • 69 percent approve of more coal-power plants “if the plants used a new method of burning coal, which would cost more but produce less air pollution.” (Otherwise, support for coal was at 41%.)

Some of these questions misstate what is being proposed. The main push on Capitol Hill is for tax credits for renewable energy, so they won’t cost more than fossil fuels. Yet even with the poll’s conservative framing, renewable energy comes out on top.

Meanwhile, the poll doesn’t even ask about the big issue facing Congress, a cap on carbon emissions, which earned 58 percent support in a recent Center for American Progress poll.

You really can’t call the public split on how to deal with global warming, if your poll doesn’t address how to actually deal with global warming.

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