This is the devastating question few surveyors are willing to ask. Survey teams usually use mindless motherhood questions instead, like whether we “believe” in climate change. (Who doesn’t?) Or they ask if we want clean energy… (doh, like I want my energy dirty?) But the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research actually did a nationally representative poll of 1097 adults.
Everyone wants a nice climate, but hardly anyone wants to pay for it:
When asked whether they would support a monthly fee on their electric bill to combat climate change, 42 percent of respondents are unwilling to pay even $1. Twenty-nine percent would pay $20, an amount roughly equivalent to what the federal government estimates the damages from climate change would be on each household. And, 20 percent indicate they are willing to pay $50 per month. Party affiliation is the main determinant of how much people are willing to pay, not education, income, or geographic location. Democrats are consistently willing to pay more than Republicans.
The answer has flummoxed people. Sam Ori in the Wall St Journal can’t make sense of it:
This is despite the fact that a whopping 77% said they think climate change is happening and 65% think it is a problem the government should do something about.
This is an upside-down result. The best available science tells us that Americans should be willing to pay considerably more, because the damages from climate change are so great…
He thinks that people don’t see this as a threat to themselves personally. But the answer is mostly within the survey, at Q20 which basically asks if people are confident that greenhouse gas obligations will be met. Fully 31% of people don’t think the US will reduce emissions, and two thirds don’t think India or China will. So who wants to pay for something that is likely to fail?
They didn’t go on to ask how many people thought that windmills or carbon markets would cool the planet. The answer to that would scare the pants of the lobbyists, and blow the whole charade. The real story is that everyone wants a nicer climate, but most people know it’s a waste of money. That’s why this is a dead topic in the election.