20050615

92% of Americans say that they are worried about dependence on foreign oil

From David Creighton, who said "I was surprised myself!"


Yale poll reveals overwhelming public desire for new energy policy direction

New Haven, Conn. - A new Yale University research survey of 1,000 adults nationwide reveals that while Americans are deeply divided on many issues, they overwhelmingly believe that the United States is too dependent on imported oil.

The survey shows a vast majority of the public also wants to see government action to develop new "clean" energy sources, including solar and wind power as well as hydrogen cars.

92% of Americans say that they are worried about dependence on foreign oil

93% of Americans want government to develop new energy technologies and require auto industry to make cars and trucks that get better gas mileage

The results underscore Americans' deep concerns about the country's current energy policies, particularly the nation's dependence on imported oil. Fully 92 percent say this dependence is a serious problem, while 68 percent say it is a "very serious" problem.

Across all regions of the country and every demographic group, there is broad support for a new emphasis on finding alternative energy sources. Building more solar power facilities is considered a "good idea" by 90 percent of the public; 87 percent support expanded wind farms; and 86 percent want increased funding for renewable energy research.

According to Gus Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, "This poll underscores the fact that Americans want not only energy independence but also to find ways to break the linkage between energy use and environmental harm, from local air pollution to global warming."

Results of the poll indicate that 93 percent of Americans say requiring the auto industry to make cars that get better gas mileage is a good idea. Just 6 percent say it is a bad idea. This sentiment varies little by political leaning, with 96 percent of Democrats and Independents and 86 percent of Republicans supporting the call for more fuel-efficient vehicles.

These findings come on the heels of Congress' rejection of a proposal to require sport utility vehicles and minivans to become more fuel-efficient and achieve the same gasoline mileage as passenger cars.

"This poll suggests that Washington is out of touch with the American people - Republicans, Democrats and Independents, young and old, men and women-even S.U.V. drivers-embrace investments in new energy technologies, including better gas mileage in vehicles," said Dan Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, which commissioned the survey.

The survey also revealed broad support for action to improve air and water quality but growing discomfort with environmentalists." Likewise, the public's confidence in TV news as a source of environmental information has fallen sharply.

This survey is one element of a broader research project at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies focused on environmental attitudes and behavior. Funding for this project, directed by Associate Dean Dan Abbasi, is being provided by the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation and Hartford-based United Technologies Corp., which has been ranked as Fortune Magazine's "Most Admired" aerospace company based on criteria including social responsibility.

The survey was conducted on behalf of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies by Global Strategy Group from May 15 to 22, 2005. The survey was conducted using professional phone interviewers. The nationwide sample was drawn from a random digit dial (RDD) process.

Respondents were screened on the basis of age, i.e., to be over the age of 18. The survey has an overall margin of error of 3.1% at the 95% confidence level. The survey questions and full results can be found at the website http://www.yale.edu/envirocenter for the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-06/yu-ypr060905.php


Comments?

Doing science by polling is likely to produce similar results to any other random solution selector. - Bobby

Please explain Bobby - I know that a survey is not in itself a solution - but isn't it exciting to see the growing concern and receptivity of the "public" and isn't it our challenge to respond to that and bring our solutions to their attention - making them accessible and affordable. A real grass roots opportunity! - Sola Roof Guy PS I finally got your member name sorted out but I made a mistake and saved your Profiles page first in the Sola Roof group - then I got it right and saved the page in the Profiles group - so, like me you have a few personal pages where visitors might find your information.

Rick,

Thanks for sorting out my member name.

I was looking at another aspect of the poll. I agree with you that it is great that people are showing a greater interest in energy issues and it improves the chance that we will be able to have an impact when we have working prototypes. If we are able to realize your vision of dramaticaly reducing energy use for residential heating and cooling, this could have ramifications throughout the energy sector.

My concern was with the willingness to mandate higher gas mileage. This sounds like something we could all vote for, impose on Detroit, and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, engineering decisions are seldom that simple. The last time we did that, the CAFE standards during the 1970's energy crsis, it resulted in the death of 1,000 people per year per 1 mile per gallon increase in gas mileage. (I'm not sure I remember this accurately - does anyone remember the reference?) That effect was documented.

Another effect has not been documented. American manufacturers were set up to produce large cars. The CAFE standards said Detroit had to produce small cars - sorry - another engineering decision - we don't get to vote on it - if we demand higher gas mileage, the likely engineering response is to build lighter, smaller cars. Who is better at producing Japanese cars, American manufacturers or Japanese manufacturers? The Japanese were. This led to the decline of the American car manufacturers. The Japanese manufacturers immediately gained market share. Then they had the time to learn to produce larger cars and pickup trucks. They have maintained their advantage, because Congress gave them an unfair advantage for a while, even now that Detroit has learned to build more efficient large cars.

Because CAFE standards were imposed requiring a more rapid increase in mileage than American manufacturers could deliver with the style of car they produced, we have severly damaged the industry that is 1/7th of the USA economy. If one tries to make engineering decisions by taking a poll, there will often be unfortunate consequences both to our safety and to our wallet. - Bobby

Bobby, I agree with you on the above and I am not in favor of a role for government in response. Government regulation is part of the problem. Like you say, it is well intended but entirely misguided. I think that the industry should be free to develop solutions - even those that contradict the theory that prevails that we must contract, big is bad and growth is a problem. I do not see that as a necessary assumption. If we were not using Fossil Fuel but using carbon neutral Bio Fuel in the most efficient hybrid electric/diesel drive systems then we coud expand the economy. My position is that the Oil From Algae technology, when production of this Biomass Production is fully integrated with our built environment, will produce a surplus of energy for our needs. That means that we can even reduce atmospheric CO 2 and start to deliver a Global Warming Solution. But we can take this sustainable path even while we have growth and more expansion of energy consumption in the total global percapita basis. The west is consuming 25 barrels/person/year - while the poor consume less than one and India and China are approaching 2 - so we need to see efficiency reductions in the west and some convergence on a level that is sustainable for everyone and still would accomadate growth and prosperity. - Sola Roof Guy

Rick,

I agree. If we want to help lift much of the world out of their poverty, we have to provide a means for them to use more energy. Even if we continue to improve efficiency, there will not be enough energy to allow more of the world to break out of poverty. We have to develop something new - SolaRoof and oil from algae are my best guesses. - Bobby