Warming in My Backyard
THE SOURCE: “The American Public’s Energy Choice” by Stephen Ansolabehere and David M. Konisky, in Daedalus, Spring 2012.
Climate change activists take note: Your efforts appear to be in vain. Despite constant warnings about global warming, the American public doesn’t think about the issue much when making judgments about which domestic fuel choices to support. On the basis of this conclusion, Harvard government professor Stephen Ansolabehere and Georgetown public policy professor David M. Konisky argue that leaders would be smart to emphasize policies focused on other issues in order to tackle the climate challenge.
Ansolabehere and Konisky studied a series of public opinion surveys launched in 2002 to gauge how Americans assess the costs and environmental effects of different fuels used to generate electricity. The two researchers found, on the one hand, that many rated environmental impact an important factor in their opinions about national energy use. Specifically, they favored forms of energy they believed to be less harmful to the environment. Seventy-five percent wanted to increase the use of solar and wind power, for instance.
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