The cranium of your Portland-based renewable energy correspondent just nearly exploded. The cause? Seeing new research that shows that 76 percent of Texans support tax breaks to produce renewable energy as a way to reduce future global warming, compared to 75 percent of Oregonians.
Well, OK, statistically the difference is insignificant, but the research by Stanford University professor Jon Krosnick – a vast pulling together, collating, analyzing and extrapolating of a decade’s worth of polling data – nonetheless contains some startling and, frankly, uplifting information regarding American attitudes on climate change.
The Krosnick data, covering 46 states, was released on Wednesday by U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), co-chairs of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change. And as the Texas-Oregon comparison on renewables support indicates, it shows a pretty firm consensus that climate change is real, caused by man, and needs to be dealt with.
Every one of the states that Krosnick was able to analyze showed at least 75 percent of the population saying, yep, climate change is real. Every one of the 46 states showed at least 67 percent believing the U.S. should limit the greenhouse gas emissions from businesses. Even on the question of whether the U.S. should go it alone to address climate change if other countries refuse to act, in every state except one (Utah, 48 percent) more than half the people were in the affirmative.
“These polls are further proof that the American people are awake to the threat of climate change, and have not been taken in by the polluting industries’ conspiracy of denial,” Whitehouse said in a statement. “Now it’s time for Congress to wake up and face the facts: climate change is real; it is hurting our people, our economy, and our planet; and we have to do something about it.”
But back to that Texas-Oregon comparison: All the data on Texas was at first glance quite surprising. After all, this is the state that elected Ted Cruz. But as Krosnick pointed out to USA Today, “in states recently hit by drought (Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas) or vulnerable to sea-level rise (Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island),” 84 percent or more of residents believed that climate change is real. And in Texas, that real-world experience has inspired a view on climate change that across the board is actually quite progressive. Too, the fact that Texas is such a wind power leader could have something to do with the support for tax breaks for renewables.
Note: Sufficient data wasn’t available for Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. Regarding methodology, great detail is available with each state fact sheet, but in general, according to the Waxman/Whitehouse release: “To generate the state-level data, Professor Krosnick combined the results of the best national surveys over the past decade of Americans’ opinions about climate change. This large dataset gave Professor Krosnick sufficient data to estimate public opinion in 46 states. His methodology made statistical adjustments to account for differences in survey methodologies and changes in public opinion over time.”