Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Some climate polls

The polling outfit Rasmussen Reports decided to find out what people thought about proposals for a legislated "cap and trade" system. As you can see from the chart above, we don't have much of an idea at all.

Less than a quarter knew that it had something to do with the environment. More thought maybe it was a way to rein in financial crooks or reform the health insurance business. The rest knew they didn't know.

So-called "cap and trade" is a scheme to harness market mechanisms to make it profitable for polluters to reduce their CO2 emissions. It brings human greed into play on the side of the planet by way of government intervention. Sneaky, eh?

But obviously it's not something that makes intuitive sense to the population at large. For that matter, the urgency of trying to reduce global warming still doesn't make intuitive sense. Political scientists have discovered:

For each three degrees that local temperature rises above normal, Americans become one percentage point more likely to agree that there is 'solid evidence' that the earth is getting warmer.

The notion that humans -- however numerous we've become and however thoroughly we exploit the planet's resources -- could make the place uninhabitable is just too unbelievable to sink in. After all, such a development is outside human experience.


The other day on Daily Kos, Meteor Blades polled that exceptionally tuned-in community on whether they thought global warming was going to get to us in our lifetimes. About 75 percent of those under 65 thought so; even among those over 65, nearly 60 percent thought "yes."

The discrepancy between the understandings among the general public and among more informed citizens is a recipe for a political problem -- but global warming is a planetary problem.

In case you wanted a thorough explanation of "cap and trade,' here's the EcoGeek:

H/t Mr. Natural.

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