How to solve the political paradox of climate change?
While most Americans accept that man-made climate change is real, they are divided about what to do in response to it and how urgently to take action.
Recent polling from the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation found nearly 8 in 10 Americans agree human activity is changing the Earth’s climate. And the majority of Americans — about two-thirds — would like to see the federal government do more to mitigate climate change. In terms of public opinion, this suggests the debate about climate change has been settled.
The real debate is about what to do — and who will bear the responsibility for necessary change. Only half the respondents believed climate change should be urgently addressed over the coming decade — a significant increase compared with just years ago, but still low for something that scientists have repeatedly characterized as an existential threat.
Likewise, half of adults responding to the poll said they would be willing to pay $2 a month more on their electric bills to address climate change, the Post reported. But 75 percent of respondents balked at the idea of paying $10 a month. And while the majority of respondents support fuel-efficiency standards, they also oppose increasing federal and gas taxes, which haven’t been raised in a generation. In short, the vast majority of Americans are concerned about climate change and want something to be done, but many people don’t want to pay for addressing it.