On the Environment, the Alarmists Are Still Losing
Americans may be "evolving" on many fronts, but the issue of energy is less open to emotional appeals.
All that money. All that effort. All the sermonizing and bloodcurdling imagery and still, Americans don't seem to be evolving quickly enough on the environment.
A new poll by Pew Research Center, for instance, finds that a wide majority of Americans support building the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport Canadian oil to refineries in Texas. Sixty-six percent of Americans favor finishing the pipeline, with only 23 percent in opposition. Strong support cuts through every political distinction—other than "liberal" Democrats.
The Obama administration, which likes to count every organism that's even tangentially connected to a clean-energy project as a "green job," has dismissed the job-producing prospects of the long-delayed pipeline as overblown. Perhaps. But cheap and abundant energy certainly helps save and/or create more jobs than any stimulus that was dreamed up in Washington.
Nearly half of Americans also support the increase use of fracking—a major innovation in productivity that helps protect the environment. This is a remarkable percentage when you consider the widespread scaremongering we've witnessed on the issue.
Global warming? According to Pew, 69 percent of Americans say there is solid evidence that the earth's average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades. But you'll notice something more interesting when you break the numbers down.
Among those who see the irrefutable scientific evidence of global temperatures rising, only 42 percent believe that most of it should be attributed to human activity. In fact, when you break it down, 23 percent of Americans believe that natural patterns in the earth's environment are heating the earth, and another 27 percent don't believe there is any solid evidence of warming at all. The more appropriate question would be: Do you believe in man-made global warming? The answer: Less than half of Americans would say yes. That, even after the unrelenting cultural, educational and political bombardment we've all had to endure on the topic.
And though 33 percent of Americans believe that global warming is a "very serious" problem, that number has declined by 6 points since October 2012.
The crusade to convince us that global warming can only be dealt with by wealth destruction and higher energy prices began with an effort to "raise awareness," which turned into some delicate nanny-state prodding before efforts to artificially inflate prices. You might remember that cap-and-trade legislation was a top priority for the president. The administration employed a number of extremists—from science czar Dr. John Holdren, who once advocated for mass sterilizations, to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who once advocated raising gas prices to match those in Europe—to press the case.
What's next? Shame. Those who don't buy the apocalyptic plotline are, at worst, deniers—with all the immorality that signifies—or, at best, quacks. Take a recent survey from lefty pollsters at Public Policy Polling of 20 "widespread and/or infamous conspiracy theories." It found that 6 percent of voters believe Osama bin Laden is still alive, 7 percent of voters think the moon landing was faked, 5 percent of voters believe that Paul McCartney actually died in 1966, and so on.
The survey also found that 37 percent of voters believe global warming is a hoax and 51 percent do not, as if ridiculous conspiracies, easily disprovable, were the same as a theory that has been overhyped and manipulated for political ends. Americans may be "evolving" on so many fronts, but the issue of energy is less open to emotional appeals and pandering. Progressives, then, still have their work cut out for them.