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From Public Understanding to Public Policy: Public Views on Energy, Technology & Climate Science in the United States
 

Summary: From Public Understanding to Public Policy:
Public Views on Energy, Technology & Climate Science in the United States
David M. Reiner
Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
Abstract
Public attitudes towards energy technologies and climate change are explored by reviewing
recent surveys of American opinion. Many claim to be interested in science or the environment,
but only a small percentage is truly "aware". On some questions, Americans exhibit relatively
good understanding, such as the role of trees in the carbon cycle and the major source of
household energy demand, but on others, such as the effects of nuclear power or how most
electricity is produced, views are often confused. Information can have an impact on public
opinion, shifting attitudes markedly. Respondents also tend to underestimate the role that
individuals play in environmental degradation. Finally, in spite of recent concern from some
progressives over the "Death of Environmentalism" and the supposed triumph of conservatives
in shaping the public's view on the environment, the rationale for abandoning traditional
bipartisan approaches to environmental protection is shown to be weak at best.
Keywords: U.S. public opinion, social and political acceptability, politics of climate change,
energy attitudes
1. Introduction
As in many political disputes, opponents in partisan battles over energy and environmental

  

Source: Aickelin, Uwe - School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham

 

Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences