A new public opinion survey, conducted by Yale University, Gallup and the ClearVision Institute, reflects quite a bit of growing urgency in Americans' thoughts on global warming. More on that point, and the growing electoral importance of this issue, over at Desmogblog.
It's also certainly worth noting the broad, and increasingly deep, public support for some hotly debated regulatory measures:
The U.S. Congress is currently debating an increase in the fuel economy standard for cars, trucks, and SUV’s. This survey found that a very large majority of Americans (85%) support a fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon, even if a new car thus cost up to $500 more to buy. Congress is also currently debating whether to mandate that electric utilities produce a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources. This survey found that 82 percent of Americans support legislation that requires utilities to produce at least 20% of their electricity from renewables, even if it cost the average household an extra $100 a year. Additionally, 89 percent of Americans would support a requirement that all new homes and commercial buildings meet higher energy efficiency standards.
Overall, the picture painted here is of an electorate that has coalesced around pragmatic-seeming solutions even if they are framed as a sacrifice (the survey does go on to note continued opposition to increased gasoline and electricity taxes), and is inreasingly inclined to factor that into electoral judgments. It at least helps explain why as of late, pioneering states like California have been moving further and more aggressively, and other policymakers across the country have been joining in.
Some may cynically fear this growing consensus, and the innovative policy and legal strategies that our federal system's most directly responsive officials-- those at the local and state levels-- are crafting in response. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the public is very much behind the way that politicians like Jerry Brown and Charlie Crist are working through this; and that the larger debate we've been following will only deepen as others inevitably follow their lead or even develop their own takes on fighting climate change, and as the federal government ultimately follows suit along some of the lines advocated by survey respondents.