Thursday, March 28, 2013
Americans Want Climate Change Protection, Just Not the Bill
Stanford researchers have found Americans believe in climate change and acknowledge the risks but just don't want to pay for the measures that would be needed to deal with them.
The survey, commissioned by two departments at Stanford University, the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Ocean Solutions, was the first to investigate public attitudes towards planning for a future of sea-level rise and extreme storms.
It found a sharp disconnect between Americans' acknowledgement of climate risks – which was high – and their willingness to pay for solutions.
"I think it's a real challenge for them," said Jon Krosnick, the Stanford professor who oversaw the survey. "I think there is a fundamental disconnect."
Those surveyed were especially wary of setting up a direct confrontation with natural forces, such as building sea walls or trucking in sand to eroding beaches. They did not see the point of paying people to leave areas at risk from extreme storms and rising seas.
The survey found high awareness of the risks of climate change – and broad acceptance of the need to plan for a hotter and more unpredictable climate. Some 82% of respondents believed in the existence of climate change. More than 70% believed climate change would lead to dangerous sea-level rise and more damaging storms. And a strong majority of those surveyed said it was important to act on climate change.
Some 80% believed the cost of coastal protections should be carried by those living in coastal communities.
Could climate change transform America into an "every man for himself" society? Could it leave the country divided? Or is this research simply another reflection of a greater disconnect that currently afflicts American society, leaving it weakened and divided at the time when it most needs cohesiveness?