Attention Politicians: The Majority of Voters Support Clean Air and Energy Policies

And we're talking about voters of every political affiliation.
Dead corn plants in a drought-stricken field in Indiana. (John Sommers II / Reuters)
Oct 3, 2012
A former Gourmet staffer, Lawrence enjoys writing about design, food, travel, and lots of other stuff.

Back in July, we highlighted an article published in The New York Times “Green” blog that said, “Attuned to the public’s ambivalence, both political parties and their presidential candidates are playing down the climate issue.”

Well, both political parties, here’s a bit of a wake-up call: “A flurry of new polls suggest most Americans support clean energy and policies to reduce climate change,” reports USA Today. “Nine out of 10 registered voters (92 percent) said it was ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ important for the United States to develop and use solar power, according to an online survey of 1,206 adults released Tuesday by the independent polling firm Hart Research Associates. This support spanned the political spectrum, including 84 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of Independents and 98 percent of Democrats.”

And they add that, “undecided voters in eight swing states—Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin—favor presidential and congressional candidates who support clean air and clean energy policies over those who don't, according to surveys of 22,412 likely voters released last week by Public Policy Polling.”

MORE: Climate Change Fallout: Ski Resort Forced to Make Snow From Sewage

In a way, this shouldn’t be surprising. As an op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times points out, this summer was the country’s third warmest on record and it arrived in a year that is turning out to be the hottest ever. But they go on to comment on how this news hasn’t silenced climate change deniers, it’s only shifted their argument. “Increasingly, they are accepting evidence of recent warming, but they deny that it is largely caused by humans, attributing it instead to natural factors such as solar variability or the El Niño system.”

Maybe those deniers should check out this blast of climate change news from the past: The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that a new study published in the journal Nature found that, “Centuries before the Industrial Revolution or the recognition of global warming, the ancient Roman and Chinese empires were already producing powerful greenhouse gases through their daily toil.”

“The burning of plant matter to cook food, clear cropland, and process metals released millions of tons of methane gas into the atmosphere each year during several periods of pre-industrial history . . . Although the quantity of methane produced back then pales in comparison with the emissions released today—the total amount is roughly 70 times greater now—the findings suggest that man's footprint on the climate is larger than previously realized.”

Glen M. MacDonald, who wrote the Times op-ed and chairs the University of California, Los Angeles’ Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, notes that, “It's crucial for scientists like me to provide dispassionate estimates of what the climate is doing now and will do in the future. But in the end, we won't be the ones making the decisions about how best to deal with the warming and its consequences. This will require a broad public conversation and a well-informed public.”

And a little attention from both political parties would be helpful too.

Are you surprised that such an overwhelming number of Americans support clean energy policies?

Lawrence Karol is a writer and editor who lives with his dog, Mike. He is a former Gourmet staffer and enjoys writing about design, food, travel and lots of other stuff. @WriteEditDream | Email Lawrence |

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