NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 25, 2005

The average American knows nearly nothing about efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and is confused about the effects of nuclear power and renewable energy, according to a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology survey that researchers say has serious policy implications. MIT drew its conclusions from a survey of 1,200 people on a range of climate change-related questions.

As in other public surveys, the environment ranked fairly low when compared to other issues such as terrorism or the economy. Furthermore:

  • Out of 21 national and world issues, the environment ranked only 13th as being most important.
  • Global warming ranked sixth out of 10 environmental problems, below issues such as water pollution and toxic waste.
  • Thirty percent of respondents believed nuclear power plants contribute to the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (they don't).
  • Less than 4 percent of respondents knew of the terms "carbon dioxide capture" and "carbon sequestration."
  • About half of respondents supported renewable energy such as solar and wind power, but supported dropped to 25 percent when the respondents were informed of the higher costs.

However, the respondents indicated they were willing to pay up to $6.50 per month in additional utility charges to fund solutions to global warming.

Source: Brian Stempeck, "Poll Finds Public Awareness Sorely Lacking," Greenwire, March 24, 2005; Tom Curry et al., "How Aware is the Public of Carbon Capture and Storage?" Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

For Greenwire text:


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