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A recent national survey on registered voters shows support for candidates who want to address global warming. The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication issued a July 15th study on Politics and Global Warming to focus on the role of our government to fight global warming and also what actions citizens should take to address the failure of government to take action.  This report shows that people have really been thinking about global warming, and how it interconnects with other issues, such as public health and the quality of life for future generations. The study shows that many Americans are so committed to our government addressing global warming that they favor engaging in political actions in addition to voting for candidates, such as civil disobedience, volunteering for campaigns, donating money to candidates, as well as their own personal boycotts against companies who refuse to take steps to reduce global warming. The report implicitly shows voter opposition against GOP positions and lies, such as the GOP trying to scare people away from taking action as being too costly.  The results also indicate the potential for a "coalition" of Democrats and liberal/moderate GOP against the conservative GOP deniers, whose views are often in the minority.  It also shows implicit support for some actions President Obama is taking that the GOP oppose and would love to use against Democrats in the midterms, such as the EPA's proposed regulations to reduce carbon pollution. Reviewing this study can be beneficial to environmental writers and activists in terms of improving our messaging to reach a wider audience and focusing on what take-action items might be favored.

The study shows that many Americans are reaching conclusions about global warming that align with positions held by some Democrats and President Obama:

    (1)  Americans will vote for global warming candidates. President Obama advocated that voters should use a global warming litmus test for candidates and the public agree:

We find that registered voters are 2.5 times more likely to vote for a congressional or presidential candidate who supports action to reduce global warming. Further, registered voters are 3 times more likely to vote against a candidate who opposes action to reduce global warming.

A good number of Democrat voters are willing to engage in more political action to support global warming candidates:

Half of Democrats (49%) would sign a pledge to vote only for such candidates, and one third or more would write to a government official on the subject (42%), meet with an elected official (35%), volunteer time to elect such a candidate (36%), and/or donate money to such a political candidate (32%). Independents and Republicans are less likely to say they would take any of these actions.
    (2)  Many Americans are willing to engage in political campaigns or non-violent civil disobedience to convince lawmakers and officials to take action to address global warming.
• 26% are willing to join or are currently participating in a campaign to convince elected
officials to take action to reduce global warming;

• 37% are willing to sign a pledge to vote only for political candidates that share their views on global warming;

• 13% are willing to personally engage in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse.

In addition, over the past year, whether or not a company is taking steps to reduce global warming determined buying choices of some registered voters: 27% boycotted companies not taking steps while 32% purchased products from companies who are taking steps to reduce global warming.

Another key finding not good for the GOP deniers: "Americans across political lines, except conservative Republicans, think government, corporations and citizens should do more to address global warming." More specifically, "Congress, including their own member of Congress, their governor, local government officials, and President Obama should be doing more."

An underlying view of much in this study is that "Two in three Americans (66%) think global warming is happening."   However, "Only one in three Americans knows global warming is currently harming people in the United States."  This is one reason some of our DK blogathons have focused on global warming impacts happening now to show the personal stories of harm to people now. We definitely need to reach more people on this issue.  

    (3)  Americans want the U.S. to take action on global warming even if it means unilateral action without an international agreement. Sixty-two percent (62%) do not want the U.S. to remain idle until other nations agree to cut emissions. Rather, "U.S. should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do." This is a key finding, essentially supporting President Obama's decision to use executive actions to address global warming, such as the new EPA regulations, to bypass Congressional inaction.  This view not only supports some of President Obama's plans, but also rejects an argument by climate deniers:  

Climate change skeptics have long argued that anything the U.S. does will not count for much if large polluters like India and China do not also take steps to curtail their carbon output. The Obama administration has argued that the U.S. has to exhibit leadership on emissions cuts (most recently through Environmental Protection Agency rules on existing and new power plants), and that the U.S.'s credibility at forthcoming climate talks in Paris rests on a demonstration of American commitment.
    (4) Registered voters agree that renewable energy can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.  "Two in three Americans (66%) support the Congress and president passing laws to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy as a way to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels."  While the GOP want to continue with reliance on fossil fuels, these registered voters say no.

    (5)  Many agree that taking action to reduce global warming now will improve public health, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and provide a better life for future generations. "More than half of Americans think that if the United States takes steps to reduce global warming, it will provide a better life for our children and grandchildren (60%), help free us from dependence on foreign oil (55%), improve people’s health (54%), save many plant and animal species from extinction (52%), and create green jobs and a stronger economy (50%)." The GOP say give us more dirty fossil fuel projects to free our dependence on foreign oil, the voters say no, the path to free our dependence is taking steps to reduce global warming.

    (6)  Liberal/moderate Republicans support actions to address global warming, leaving the conservative Republicans in the denier corner by themselves.  The GOP is divided about whether global warming impacts are happening now and whether government policies should address global warming. Among the registered voters, there is a minority of conservative GOP in the denier camp. More importantly, there is a majority of perhaps a new "coalition" of Democrats and liberal/moderate GOP who support the view that global warming is happening, and support actions such as carbon dioxide emission limits:

For example, among registered voters:

• 88% of Democrats, 59% of Independents and 61% of liberal/moderate Republicans think global warming is happening, compared to only 28% of conservative Republicans;

• 81% of Democrats and 51% of liberal/moderate Republicans are worried about global warming, compared to only 19% of conservative Republicans;

• 82% of Democrats and 65% of liberal/moderate Republicans support strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, compared to only 31% of conservative Republicans.

    This potential "coalition" is also seen in the report on the issue of voting for global warming candidates:
Americans are more than two times more likely to vote for a congressional or presidential candidate who strongly supports action to reduce global warming. Democrats, liberal and moderate Republicans, and Independents are more likely to vote for such a candidate. Only conservative Republicans are less likely to vote for such a candidate.
While the GOP like to focus on the costs of addressing global warming, Americans support a national response to global warming even if the costs are large:
A majority of Americans (62%) support the U.S. making a medium (35%) or large-scale effort (27%) to reduce global warming, even if the costs are medium or large, respectively. Democrats are particularly likely to support such efforts (84%, 87% of liberal Democrats). About half of liberal and moderate Republicans (52%) would support these efforts.

    (7) Work needs to be done to make the case of the interconnection between global warming and our national security.  

The only result that may give climate hawks pause was the benefit that polled as the least popular: That addressing climate change would improve U.S. national security. Even among liberal Democrats, it is not an easy sell (47 percent); it does not even break 30 percent with moderate or conservative Democrats and only 24 percent for Republicans as a whole.

…The belief that climate change and national security are not interrelated is prevalent despite repeated warnings from the U.S. intelligence and defense communities.

These are some of the key points found in this recent polling of registered voters, which supports some of the plans and policies of Democrats and President Obama. This means we might have a more receptive audience of people to bring on board for addressing global warming than we might have believed to be the case. There are so many issues addressed in this report, which can assist environmental writers and activists on how to better focus our message in order to reach more of the public.

Another unstated but noticed point is that "global warming" is mentioned 250 times in the report, and "climate change" only 10 times, only twice in the report, and the rest in reference to the projects or centers that include climate change in the name of the organization. An earlier report "found that the term 'global warming' is associated with greater public understanding, emotional engagement, and support for personal and national action than the term 'climate change.'"

Originally posted to Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 04:34 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, Climate Change SOS, and Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

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