DeSmog

Public Opinion Pushes Action on Climate Change, Usually

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Jack Sparrow's compassWhy is it that California is able to take such a strong lead on  climate change, while the U.S. federal administration stands around questioning the science and refusing to undertake any real action on the issue?

It’s tempting to blame the polls. While there are many altruistic and economic reasons Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California legislators are taking such a strong stance on climate change, it would be naïve to overlook the importance of public opinion polls showing that Californians are concerned and want action.

A look at polling data in California in 2003 compared to today illustrates the trend:

In 2003, 68% of Californians believed that increased carbon dioxide and other gases released into the atmosphere will, if unchecked, lead to global warming.

In 2006, 63% believe the effects of global warming are already underway.


In 2003, 54% of Californians believed that global warming will pose a serious threat to them in their lifetime. In 2006, 79% believe global warming is a serious threat now.
 

In 2003, 57% of identified Democrats in California believed that the U.S. should join other countries in setting standards to reduce green house gases; 42% of identified Republicans believed the same.


In 2006, 80% of all Californians believe that state legislators should act to reduce green house gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Along party lines, 73% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans support California’s unilateral action on climate change.


So, Arnie is not so much standing up as a courageous California leader; he’s just following his electorate. If you look to other states, you see that they are also acting, and so are cities.

The question this raises, then, is: What’s happening in D.C.?

Two recent national polls, a June, 2006 poll, and an August, 2006 poll shows that 74% of respondents describe global warming as a very or somewhat serious problem. That  leaves President George Bush and Senate Environment Committee Chair Jimmy Inhofe out of step.

In public relations (as is usually the case in politics) public opinion polls provide a compass in making policy and communicating on your issue. Perhaps G.W. Bush, et al, got a climate change compass from Captain Jack Sparrow – it may work, but it doesn’t point north.

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Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmog. He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning. Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks. Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder. Prior to DeSmog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health. In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications. Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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