Brookings: Public Concern over Climate Still Bottom of the List

June 11th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Public opinion surveys are notoriously easy to manipulate. Depending on how you ask the survey question, you can get just about any results you want.

A recently publicized Washington Post – ABC News poll, timed to coincide with the recent announcement of the Obama EPA proposed power plant CO2 emissions regulations, found a majority of Americans supported CO2 restrictions on coal-fired power plants. But the way the question was asked minimized the supposed cost, and maximized the supposed benefit, of such restrictions on the American economy.

Quoting from the HuffPo article about the survey results:

Asked whether Washington should still go forward with limits if they “significantly lowered greenhouse gases but raised your monthly energy expenses by 20 dollars a month,” 63 percent of respondents say yes, including 51 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 71 percent of Democrats.

Hell, even *I* would probably support $20 more a month if it “significantly lowered greenhouse gases”, just to be on the safe side. But it’s NOT going to significantly lower greenhouse gases (on a global basis, which is what matters), nor is it going to cost only $20 a month.

The poll question was so poorly worded and misleading, I think the pollsters should be ashamed of themselves.

A more recent survey of American attitudes on immigration and other matters (including how the various news outlets rank for trustworthiness) was just announced yesterday by the Brookings Institution, and buried in it was the following chart that showed how Americans with different political leanings ranked various concerns. As is usually the case, “climate” comes in dead last with all groups except self-described “liberals”:

Clearly, jobs and the deficit — basically, “the economy” — is the main concern that most Americans have. And the proposed EPA regulations will hurt far more people than they would help…especially the poor.

Generally speaking, the public has lost faith in scientists whose profession requires them to sound the alarm over global warming climate change climate disruption. Most Americans understand that forecasts of gloom and doom as predicted by “scientific experts” are not as reliable as predictions of, say, this afternoon’s weather.

In fact they have a history of almost zero reliability.

We can predict the time of sunrise in Podunk, Michigan on July 17, fifty years in advance. But not all scientific disciplines are created equally, climate prediction is still in its infancy, and fortunately the public understands that.

10 Responses to “Brookings: Public Concern over Climate Still Bottom of the List”

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  1. Free Market Method says:

    Here’s an idea… why not just ask the poll question, and when the response is ‘Yes’, they set up an automatic debit on the respondent’s bank account for $20/month. Then they can use 100% of that money to combat climate disruption, and leave the rest of us alone. When they get enough money to pay for an enhanced CO2 scrubber for a power plant, then they can pay to install it. In this way, the people that believe in man-made climate disruption can put their money where their mouth is.

  2. Dave says:

    I would not pay anything (by choice) for a CO2 reduction. Some say, what if you are wrong. I say, what if I am right. A slight warming would be good. A lot of warming would probably still have an overall positive effect, especially if it is only slightly at the equator and more as you move towards the poles.

    Also, despite what many seem to believe, CO2 is green. As levels go up, plants grow faster and need less water. If there is a greening of the planet, it may be because CO2 levels are increasing.

  3. Dave says:

    Worth noting. As you go from Conservative to Liberal, the Priority for Morals goes down.

  4. Thanks, Dr. Spencer. Good digging.
    You write that “the proposed EPA regulations will hurt far more people than they would help…especially the poor”. I do agree that this EPA “carbon reduction” action will hurt people, but I fail to see whom would be helped by it.

    • My answer as for who would be helped by this EPA regulation: Politicians running for office at the federal level, and who would get more votes if they get environmentalists to vote for them.

      This is a sad situation in the days after success of greatly reducing actual pollution. Modern environmentalists seem to be against everything industrial. They even seem to be against developing a safe way of disposing of nuclear waste, because that would remove from the environmentalists an argument against nuclear power. I remember one arguing against a nuclear waste disposal method on basis that the nuclear waste must be monitorable and retrievable. (My favored method had the waste not leaving earth, but the restriction rules out sending the waste into the sun.)

      I prefer reduction of energy consumption being aimed at the demand side, such as nudging for improved energy efficiency of things, and better thermal insulation of homes.

      One more thing: My favorite reasons for reduction of energy consumption are to improve the trade balance of USA, to reduce the cost of living in a western society, and to make fossil fuel supplies last longer so that good alternatives can be developed.

    • Gordon Robertson says:

      @Andres Valencia “I do agree that this EPA “carbon reduction” action will hurt people, but I fail to see whom would be helped by it”.

      Andres, let’s not lose sight of who is driving the propaganda, the United Nations, through its political climate arm, the IPCC. Since the 1960s, the UN has been trying to get nations to agree on a tax to redistribute wealth to poorer nations.

      They have tried everything and now they have the answer, global warming resurrected as climate change. Carbon taxes are actually about redistributing wealth and the ultimate aim is to have polluters contribute to a fund based on how much they pollute.

      Sounds simple enough but the aim is not controlling CO2 emissions. Here in Canada, in British Columbia, we have a government who call themselves Liberals with a political ideology that is right of Attila the Hun.

      Here’s their take on carbon taxes. They tax schools and hospitals for their emissions then turn the money over to private companies as an incentive to reduce their emissions.


      You can bet on one thing. Any tax aimed at CO2 reduction will have nothing to do with CO2 reduction. If the UN gets its way, wealthy countries will be paying a carbon tax directly to poorer countries. At least they have that part of it right as opposed to our government, who does not quite understand the Robin Hood effect.

      Stealing from the poor and giving to the wealthy is not what it’s supposed to be about.

  5. nobby says:

    Foreign aid transfers:

    Stealing from the poor in rich countries to give to the rich in poor countries – with a litle on the side for expenses.

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