Poll: Sixty-Eight Percent of Americans Would Not Be Willing To Pay $10 a Month To Combat Climate Change

For those of us worried about climate change and the Administration’s environmental policies, there is a disheartening poll this month about the disconnect between environmental aspirations and the willingness to sacrifice to achieve the needed progress. An AP-NORC survey found that 68% of Americans wouldn’t be willing to pay even $10 more a month in higher electric bills to combat climate change. It reflects the calculus of President Donald Trump that voters still prioritize jobs and financial concerns over countervailing environmental values.

There are a host of polls showing both Democratic and Republican voters alike want action on climate change. Indeed, many climate change skeptics in Congress now support action. A recent poll showed the number of people alarmed over climate change has doubled in the last five years.

However, the political profile changes when these abstract goals are placed against even a small concrete sacrifice.

The result may be the framing of the question as a direct payment. The same voters are likely to support a large revenue commitment by the government or changes in policies on fossil fuels. That should not be the case of course but the framing of such questions is critical to the results.  The fact is that proposals like the Green New Deal would necessarily cause rising costs since about 80% of all the energy in the United States comes from fossil fuels. However, the request for $120 more a year in utility bills is obviously a conversation stopper for many voters. There is also the added element of asking people to give more money to the utilities, which are generally viewed with some suspicion, if not open hostility.

The “Yellow Vest” protests in France are indicative of this problem. The effort to add a fuel tax to combat climate change sent Paris into a virtual shutdown. Green taxes are an obvious way to impact consumption while raising revenue. However, Western European countries are seeing a backlash even though their populations are viewed as the most educated and motivated on the issue.

When I speak on college campuses, I see this phenomenon first hand and use it to illustrate the problem with advocating for civil liberties. I ask students how many would sell me their free speech rights for $200,000. I used to say $2 million but that tended itself to be a bit too abstract. A sum of $200,000 is easy for students to put into real perspective. It is their student loans plus a downpayment on a house or car. Often the majority will raise their hands because free speech is largely an abstraction while $200,000 is not. They simply cannot remember when they really used their free speech rights. It is not that they do not value free speech. Yet, it remains an abstraction placed against a real value.

The same may be true in this poll, or at least I hope so.

304 thoughts on “Poll: Sixty-Eight Percent of Americans Would Not Be Willing To Pay $10 a Month To Combat Climate Change”

  1. “proposals like the Green New Deal would necessarily cause rising costs since about 80% of all the energy in the United States comes from fossil fuels.”

    Multiple studies have shown that green energy is actually cheaper than fossil fuels. For a start – once the infrastructure is in place – it merely requires maintenance – unlike fossil fuels that require non stop replenishment.

    Other countries are going green, because apart from saving the planet, it is cheaper than other sources such as fossil fuels or nuclear (as the UK stated – and if we went 100% nuclear, the world would run out of power in five years).

  2. Many of us see this as a waste of money that will not have the intended effect. Climate change is judged by someone’s long term theory of what might happen. So far none of the predictions have been right. So how would my money fix that?

    1. Your comment speaks to legacy of our evolution. Our deep ancestors were well served by a bias for short term gains over avoiding long term costs. Here we have people who willingly accept a $10 a month increase in their cable or phone bill but will not abide paying to avoid long term pain with no short term gain.

      As for “someone’s” theory that someone is hundreds of people studying climate. And yes the predictions have not been spot on as they mostly underestimate the amount of warming and the extent of change and damage.

      I do agree with you though that no amount of money will fix the problem because our bias is so ingrained that we can probably not be changed.

  3. Poll: Sixty-Eight Percent of Americans Would Not Be Willing To Pay $10 a Month To Combat Climate Change

    Dear Don Quixote (ie climate change alarmists) even if 100% of Americans agreed to pay 100% of their combined earnings for life Earth’s climate would still be beyond human control.

    We humans (including those on quixotic quests and climatologists) have a very limited understanding of all potential mechanisms for climate change on planet Earth.

    Mr. Quixote if humans are not able to solve precession, cosmic ray bombardment, albedo effect, the Sun being a variable star, vulcanism, plate tectonics, Coriolis effect, Earth’s elliptical orbit around the Sun (ie Milankovitch Theory), etc then humans have no hope of changing Earth’s climate.

    https://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/ice_ages.html

    Are humans capable of polluting the environment?

    Yes.

    Are humans responsible for climate change on planet Earth?

    Please.

    Earth’s climate was variable for billions of years preceding the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The claim is that human emissions of CO2 (150 years worth) roughly about 5% (roughly 20ppm in volume) of the total volume of CO2 present in Earth’s atmosphere (400ppm in volume) is a leading mechanism for climate change.

    What is CO2?

    CO2 is a polyatomic trace (400 ppm in volume) inert non-reactive atmospheric gas that can interact with energy in one of three ways tangently, rotationally and vibrationally. CO2 does not act as a thermal blanket to trap heat like water vapor or methane.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck%27s_law

    Additionally geologists studying Earth’s geological record have definitively shown that temperature rise precedes CO2 rise by hundreds of years.

    wattsupwiththat.com/2018/09/09/empirical-evidence-shows-temperature-increases-before-co2-increase-in-all-records/

    Please Don Quixote there are a whole host of human maladies that we can solve if only we would stop misallocating our finite resources chasing climate change windmills.

    1. Personanongrata

      You might not have been aware, but this weblog only permits two hyperlinks per comment. I corrected yours to allow it to post. If you desire for the readers to review more than two links, this may be accomplished through the use of multiple comments of two links each.

  4. The US accounts for a fraction of the global CO2 emissions. The most draconian measures, that would likely grind our economy to a halt would result in a change of a fraction of a degree. That would require us not to denude the country of trees to burn to heat our homes, and for China, Russia, and India to stop increasing their rate of emissions.

    Realistically, the minuscule gains we make are wiped out as other nations increase their rates of emissions.

    The reality is that $10 a month will not improve our air quality, or reduce global carbon emissions, so it’s a nonsense proposition.

    When you go to the coast, look upon ancient shorelines carved in the cliffs. Our climate has always changed. No single species can suddenly freeze our climate into one epoch and never allow it to change. Climate change drove the evolution of many species, including the polar bear. If our species requires that the climate not change to survive, we are doomed, just like the polar bear. You have to adapt to survive.

    I am in favor of improving air quality, including particulates, toxic chemicals, acid rain, ozone, and we also need to maintain an atmospheric profile conducive to mammalian life. At some point, too much carbon in the atmosphere will affect respiration.

    We should be focusing on the existential threat of air and water pollution, access to clean drinking water, as well as preserving the oxygen generators and carbon sequesters in our plant biomass. Marine phytoplankton and plants generate most of Earths oxygen, and yet we pollute the ocean thoughtlessly. Forests produce most of the rest, and yet we are not good stewards of the rain forests. We all breathe the same air, and should keep it as clean as possible.

    But Climate Change programs get all the money, and therefore we will not see as much improvement as we would if such funds were freed up to use in projects where we would see a measurable improvement in our lifetimes.

    Pity.

    1. I would add that the “Green New Deal” would destroy our economy and render us like Venezuela.

      Environmentalism is a luxury of those with enough to eat, economic security, and basic freedoms. Those who work the hardest for the environment are successful capitalist societies with a high standard of living. Those who pollute the most are statist Socialist or Communist societies, with poor standards of living and little to no individual freedom.

      And yet, in a self destructive obsession, politicians keep trying to move us to the latter scenario.

      The method of Socialism is a politician presents people with an existential problem. A crisis. They are all needed to sacrifice their rights, and in exchange, their benevolent Socialist government will fight the forces of evil against this crisis. To sweeten the deal, they are offered almost unlimited free stuff – free education, food, housing, clothing, jobs, money. Here, give us your rights, we’ll give you all this stuff, and we’ll save the world. Win win, right? Every single time it devolves into a dystopian, murderous nightmare, shrouded in smog.

      Are we really a nation of ingenues stupidly clamoring for our own destruction, with the best of intentions? We all share the same fate here. If we vote to become the next Venezuela, all of our children will starve along with them.

      1. “we” would not have any outcome like Venezuela.
        They had gun control in Venezuela under Chavez, now they have Maduro

        “we” would not tolerate a Maduro. that’s a promise

        1. Quite a few people seem actively working for their own self destruction. There would be some holdouts, but I think if enough people applied themselves, and worked hard, they could destroy this country admirably.

          No civilization lasts forever. Rome fell and helped usher in the Dark Ages.

    2. The US is 2nd behind China – and ahead of India – in carbon emissions, and except for a few minor countries like Saudia Arabia, we have the highest per capita levels of carbon emissions in the world. So, our “fraction” of the world output is a big one. Fortunately all the other governments pledged to work on lowering emissions in the future and given their understanding that we are all in danger, are making some effort to improve. We need a new president who is not both ignorant and arrogant and will re-pledge our nation to join again in global efforts. Pointing fingers without a commitment to join in the hard work will not help.

      As to your concerns about other types of pollution, I assume you are also alarmed by the industry hacks and lobbyists the President continues to appoint to our environmental and business oversight agencies as well as his attempts to end regulations meant to curb pollution.

      1. Rank for total emissions
        2015 metric tons of emissions
        per capita emissions in metric tons

        1

        China

        9040.74

        6.59

        2

        United States

        4997.50

        15.53

        3

        India

        2066.01

        1.58

        4

        Russia

        1468.99

        10.19

        5

        Japan

        1141.58

        8.99

        6

        Germany

        729.77

        8.93

        7

        South Korea

        585.99

        11.58

        8

        Iran

        552.40

        6.98

        9

        Canada

        549.23

        15.32

        10

        Saudi Arabia

        531.46

        16.85

        1. Per capita measures do not help our endeavor to clean up the environment. Assume everyone buys a pot. One needs to figure out where the least emissions are created when making that pot. It isn’t in China.

          1. Given that China emits less than double what we do, with more than 4 times the population, it probably makes things more efficiently than we, as it clearly does in supporting human life.

            1. If an industry goes from America to China the emissions per unit of product generally increases tremendously. What you are advocating is that the US reduce its emissions while China increases its based on population. That would make the world a very dirty place.

      2. The US produces less than half of China’s CO2 emissions. China industrial production is less than US industrial production. Everything being equal one can look at the clearest picture by comparing product production between the two nations and their emissions. I believe China’s over all production process (these are difficult numbers with all sorts of exclusions and inclusions) causes at least 3X as much carbon emissions as the US.

        The US has been reducing emissions and China increasing them. If you are against coal then look at china the largest user of coal in the world. Things that can help reduce emissions and protect our environment: Technology, something the US has concentrated on. Go to Shanghai and breathe the air especially as you travel east. Higher standard of living: This permits people to be friendlier to the environment. Both of these require wealth and things like AOC’s green bill deprive economies of wealth and the money to use advanced technology.

        1. It’s amusing that those who don’t want us to do anything about climate change try to use other countries performance as an excuse. Given that the beginnings of the problem began with our industrial revolution, of which China and India had virtually no part, and that these countries each have a population more than 4 times our own, an honest person would allow that their total emissions would be greater than ours both to catch up on infrastructure and to service their greater number of citizens. It is undeniable that both these countries recognize the danger to their own future as well as the world – we are the only ignorant jerks denying it – and have begun steps to mitigate the problem. In the meantime, we have dropped the reins of leadership on this issue, just as we have on other world issues, and have no moral high ground from which to prompt and pressure other countries to act with the long view in mind, rather than the immediate and selfish road.

          1. Anon, I am happy to find you amused. Perhaps this will bring you enlightenment, as well. One day, may you achieve camaraderie for your fellow man instead of disdain.

            China increases its emissions as the US decreases them. Tiny China produces more than double the emissions in Carbon, alone, that the US does. In addition, it spews toxic sludge into the air and water.

            The air is a prime example of the tragedy of the commons. As long as other countries are increasing their pollution outputs, it negates efforts to reduce them in other countries.

            We Americans do not just breathe American air.

            In addition, the Paris Climate Accord allowed China to keep increasing those emissions. Were you aware of that? And it wasn’t only China that was permitted to increase. In fact, it was in their best interests to increase their rate of emissions as much as possible, to raise the benchmark against which, in the future, they would have to decrease emissions. In other words, it was in their interest to ramp up emissions as high as possible, to make it easier to decrease them years in the future. It was one of the many reasons why the Paris Climate Accord was a well meaning waste of everyone’s time and money.

            If your goal is clean air, how we went about it was all wrong. Opposing a fatally flawed approach does not mean you oppose clean air.

            1. Karen, you mistake disdain for Allan and other noxious personalities with disdain for my “fellow man”, who i generally find on average to be considerably more likable and intelligent.

              I think I’ve explained my position clearly enough in my posts above that repeating them is not necessary, but find yours questionable. Like Allan you seem to be saying that since other countries – primarily China – are increasing emissions, we should abandon not only the non-binding Paris Accords but any efforts to curb our emissions – which are double China’s per person – or join worldwide efforts and encourage others. Is that correct? That doesn’t make any sense if you agree less emissions is a good thing, but maybe you can explain.

              As to another point I trued to make but which you apparently misinterpreted, I was not saying or implying that the industrial revolution was a bad thing. On the contrary, but it is also true that it had a side effect of dramatically increasing CO2 emissions. The point of bringing it up was to note that not only do we emit more CO2 per person than virtually any other country in the world, but that we have been doing so for 125 years, and the effects are cumulative. Places like China and India are only now dipping into the goodies and getting those benefits, and their total emissions over time are nowhere near ours and probably never will be.

              As to the Paris Accords letting China and India increase emissions, there is no chance that they won’t given the number of people they have and the still building infrastructure which they lack. Putting aside that I doubt you care much at all about these details, other than as a reason to not do anything about the problem, The Accords were voluntary and non-binding, and no one asked or expected any country to cut their own throat, including the US. That does not mean that both China and India are not serious about becoming more efficient and cleaner, as both are. As I also said, no one in the world except our ignorant president and the GOP thinks this is not a problem endangering all our futures. If you want to keep petty score keeping as an excuse to do nothing, well, it’s a free country. Hopefully I misunderstand you. Maybe like me, you have kids and grandkids, which make the future more personal..

              1. “Karen, you mistake disdain for Allan and other noxious personalities with disdain for my “fellow man”, who i generally find on average to be considerably more likable and intelligent.”

                Anon, we already know who you are. You are Jan F. who demonstrated an incredible blind ignorance and left the blog in a huff only to reappear with your present alias, Anon. During the time spent under your former alias you lied and blamed everyone but yourself. Blind ignorance was your hallmark. Did you change with your new alias? I think not.

                The US did not abandon the idea of reducing pollution and creating a clean environment. Nor did it abandon the idea of helping other nations in many ways including ways to develop and create a clean environmently friendly environment. Despite the fact that it didn’t sign the Paris Accords the US has continuously decreased emissions something that cannot be said for a lot of other nations. No one lived up to the Paris agreement. At the same time China has increased emissions, poisoned rivers and has not been an environmentally friendly nation. Yet you as an ardant anti-American you blame the US and insist the US destroy its economy and jobs to let the biggest polluters pollute even more.

                1. The US signed the Paris Accord.
                  If Allan cares about pollution he would not be supporting Trump.

                  While the US has benefited mostly from recently abundant natural gas, Trump’s unleashing of coal restrictions will have us moving in the opposite direction of China, which is making good progress toward limiting coal use and becoming more efficient.
                  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-02/china-s-carbon-emissions-may-have-peaked-as-climate-policy-bites

                  1. You are deluded about China. They are moving away from coal because it’s inefficient compared to nuclear. they have lots of nuclear plants. they could care less about the environment. their country is full of industrial waste areas and adulterated foods are commonplace. mostly the chicoms are all about making money and planning to push back on American round eyed devils.

                    they are not green, they are red. wake up from the fantasy, sir

                    1. Kurtz, I think the predictions are that coal peaked in use but it is still the primary fuel of the Chinese economy. They have used more oil and natural gas but markets are fickle so they might in the future use more coal even though they are trying to reduce its use due to very serious pollution. Right now they are causing severe environmental damage and air pollution. A portion of that air pollution comes from the production of goods that Americans buy and previously produced at a small fraction of that pollution.

                  2. “If Allan cares about pollution he would not be supporting Trump.”

                    Anon, I care about pollution and the environment, but I am not so stupid as to jump onto a moving train going in circles. Some people think before they act. Others do not. Environmental regulations can hurt the environment and the economy as well as help it. Some people wish to pass so called environmental acts to promote their ideology or their pet projects. Others promote a balance that the ideologues don’t seem to have. They seem to prefer being unbalanced.

                    So far I haven’t seen anything so terrible coming from the Trump adminstration unless one considers full employment and a growing GDP as a terrible thing. Some people worry about environmental damage but don’t seem to care about it when the President goes to N. Korea in an attempt to limit nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons can do far more damage than a delay of several days in the Cohen hearings which were BS to begin with. Unfortunately ideologues don’t really think with their heads. Instead they declare war on anyone that doesn’t agree with them. Then they create damage to everything including the environment.

                    We will have to see what actually happens with Trumps decision on coal, but there are many factors involved including how clean coal can become. We have technologies to burn coal with less pollution and even less CO2 in the air. Many countries are significantly dependent on coal so any American (note the term American) advances in clean coal might be adapted elsewhere reducing the negative effects from coal. These countries do not have the resources to do research on such technologies so one has to consider all the factors.

                    I am all for charging polluters as long as there is a level playing field something often forgotten by those that don’t care about American (that dirty word again, American) jobs and American citizens. In their attempt to reduce ‘global emissions’ they prefer jobs to leave the US so that the product can be produced elsewhere (China). Then those products are bought by Americans despite the fact that the damage done to the environment is many times the damage that would have been done if the product were produced in America. What you claim you were trying to prevent pollution actually happens at a much greater rate.

                    1. If Allan was a serious person I’d respond. I’ve already corrected him, so no need for that.

                    2. “If Allan was a serious person I’d respond.”

                      How more unserious can a person get than by changing an alias from Jan F. to Anon in a huff because he made an A$$ of himself the first time around?

                      I couldn’t care less if you responded or not. You have no data. Your only response is that of a parrot parrotting ideology instead of science.

                    3. Your concern about the environment is BS Anon. You will have Americans buy goods from China where the damage done to the environment is multiples greater than that done by Americans manufacturing of those same items.

                      Anon’s equation for reducing pollution: American jobs lost. American economy suffers. Much greater pollution from China. Anon then pats himself on the back for what a good job he did for the global environment while he closes his eyes.

          2. Please note that before the industrial revolution, we burned trees and dung for cooking fuel, and to heat our homes. Vast deserts were created from over harvesting timber and over grazing.

            If you believe that the industrial revolution was a step back, think on how we would have likely cut down every tree on Earth by now without it. The industrial revolution began in soot, but through innovation, became steadily cleaner.

            There are accounts of early European explorers visiting mountains wreathed in smoke from all of the fires from Native Americans gathered there.

            Without the industrial revolution, life expectancy would still be less than 40, there would be no modern medical advances, provincialism would reign as people would only be able to travel by horseback or on foot, and we would live in mean hovels.

            The US by no means pollutes with impunity. Our successful capitalist economy allows us the liberty to engage in any number of environmental improvement programs. We also constantly research and innovate new technologies to reduce air pollution.

            I personally find it very frustrating that climate change initiatives funnel off most of the funding that could be used fighting toxic air and water pollution, as well as re-vegetation measures. There are some efforts in those areas, but climate change has more cache, and therefore more money. We have very little to show for the billions of dollars we have spent on climate change. After all, wasn’t the election of Obama supposed to be known forever as the day that the seas stopped rising? Or was that just political theatre?

            1. I responded to your industrial revolution discussion above – in short, I agree it was an overall very positive event though it had some downsides, including CO2 emissions.

              As to your last paragraph, from other posts I take it that you think Trump is doing a good job and you are a defender. If that is correct – and I asked you this question above – how do you square his gutting environmental regulations and appointing industry lobbyists and leaders to guard the environmental hen house with your voiced desire that we do more for clean air and water?

              1. i am with trump all the way but he could do better on the EPA and so forth. that one guy was a real loser.

                1. His every appointee in this area are real losers, if by losers you mean ex-lobbyists for coal and oil. He has also gutted regulations as often and as fast as he can, including on coal. He is – in short – what you described the Chinese as. Her doesn’t give an F about the environment and unlike the Chinese and everyone else in the world with a brain, thinks there is no danger from climate change.

                  Wake up and smell the toxins.

                  1. “ex-lobbyists for coal and oil.”

                    Remember that by losening regulations on the production of oil and natural gas the use of coal is reduced. That leads to a positive change.

                    1. Anon, It is not a list of cuts that a counts rather an accounting of the debits and credits.

                      When those that wish to force everyone into compliance gain some common sense they will work with everyone to make things a little better every day for everyone. The crazies like to go to war and cause massive destruction because their aim is to win and control rather than to make things better.

          3. “It’s amusing that those who don’t want us to do anything about climate change try to use other countries performance as an excuse.”

            What a foolish statement. I’m agnostic with regard to climate change. However, the science is not settled and the debate you offer is blind acceptance of a science that has been proven to be one sided and created in part on intentional fabrications.

            ” an honest person would allow that their total emissions would be greater than ours both to catch up on infrastructure and to service their greater number of citizens.”

            One of the ways that can be done is by you sharing your wealth but you are not about to do that. Aside from hypocricy you also forget that we could disappear tomorrow and the world would be worse off, not better off and the emissions would likely end up higher than they are today. You are too focused on generalities and not enough on the specifics.

            Is the catastrophe from global warming long term or short term? Do you know the answer? If short term then nothing we are doing today will prevent the catstrophe. If long term, then it is better to look for solutions that do not decrease wealth but permit more wealth to advance technology.

            What did you learn from the lower temperatures that occurred after certain large volcanos? Apparently little, but volcanic eruptions offer real time numbers that can help figure out solutions to the possible problem of global warming.

            To actually understand the science of all these things is difficult where ideological determinations are so much easier. That is where your thinking ended, when ideology provided an ideological answer to science that you know nothing about.

      3. Anon. I am familiar with your data. It listed carbon emissions from only fuel combustion. It also listed emissions per capita, not total per country. It listed China, which stews in its own sewage and stifles in a miasma of toxic air pollution, as far less polluting than the US per capita. The statistical sleight of hand to create that outcome deserves a spot in Cirque du Soleil.

        1. No, it listed both per capita and totals per country. Read it again.

          PS, whatever you think of China, that is not an excuse for you and I doing nothing about the problem.

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