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Posts Tagged ‘Climate’

Public opinion gets erratic on climate change

In Climate, Communication, Policy, Politics, Public Opinion on April 14, 2011 at 10:30 pm

There’s good news and bad news for anyone trying to convince the public that we need meaningful action on climate change.

The good news: a new poll conducted by my former colleagues at MassINC shows that a significant majority of people in my home state of Massachusetts consider global warming a serious problem. Then, of course, there’s the bad news: the same poll shows that many of those people aren’t much alarmed by it.  Spin that any way you like  – and we can be sure that the pundits will do so –  but it just goes to show how contradictory public opinion can be.

MassINC parses out the details in a report issued today: The 80 Percent Challenge: A Survey of Climate Change Opinion and Action in Massachusetts.

The report underscores the poll’s findings with the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, which mandates an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions statewide by the year 2050. Widely regarded as “aggressive yet attainable,” the law puts the Bay State at the leading edge of US global warming policy.

Not surprisingly, the poll reveals differences between demographic groups when it comes to climate change.  Democrats, minority groups, young people, and the less affluent show far greater awareness and concern than Republicans, older people, and the wealthy.  The gap is especially wide when it comes to the question of human-caused global warming. Yet, respondents across the spectrum believe that working to address global warming will either help the state economy or have no effect on it; only a handful think that adaptation and carbon reduction initiatives will have negative economic impacts.

“In order to meet the goals of the new law, there will need to be a far greater sense of concern on the part of Massachusetts residents,” says Ben Forman, research director at MassINC. “What is needed in Massachusetts is a real culture of climate protection that fosters action cross all sectors of our Commonwealth.”


In that regard, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts seems, once again, to be a bellwether for the entire US.

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