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Published on September 12th, 2014 | by Joshua S Hill


Midwesterners Increasingly In Favor Of Renewable Energy

September 12th, 2014 by  

A new poll has found that a substantial majority of Midwesterners believe renewable energy is a reliable and affordable option that is not only an increasing source of good jobs, but is also a good way to ensure the country’s energy generation is self-reliant and secure.

The poll, conducted by a bipartisan pair of researching companies, interviewed 2,477 Midwesterners throughout Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Work was done by Public Opinion Strategies, which conducts polling for Republican candidates, and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, which works with Democratic candidates.

The resulting study found that a majority of voters spread across political allegiance, gender, age, and income category, broadly agree that building energy efficiency as well as increasing solar and wind sources are necessary for the country’s future energy needs. Specifically:

  • 95% support increasing energy efficiency.
  • 91% support increasing the use solar energy.
  • 87% support increasing the use of wind energy.

Total support for energy efficiency reached a staggering 95%, while support for solar and wind were only slightly lower (91% and 87% respectively). There also seems to be a decent amount of understanding with regards to the issues surrounding wind power, with 79% of all respondents rejecting the idea that wind turbines are harmful to public health.

The full report is available for download here (PDF), but there is one noticeably concerning result from the report that I want to highlight — and that is public understanding of global warming.

Respondents were asked to choose from four separate statements that they believed was closest to their opinions:

  • Global warming has been established as a serious problem, and immediate action is necessary
  • There is enough evidence that global warming is taking place that some action should be taken
  • We don’t know enough about global warming, and more research is necessary before we take action
  • Concern about global warming is unwarranted

Those aligned to the first two statements represented 29% and 28% respectively, however there was an alarming 25% of respondents who stood with the third option, and 15% who believe concern for global warming is unwarranted.

Taken in hand with another survey conducted in the UK recently — which interviewed 119 Members of Parliament and found that a significant portion of Conservative MPs believe that global warming is either unproven or “environmentalist propaganda” — I believe there is some cause for concern.

The case for renewable energy seems to be an easier proposition for people to accept, despite the fact that transitioning to clean energy is a direct result of global warming and our reliance upon traditional fossil fuel energies. There are myriad reasons that renewable energies have succeeded as they have away from environmental concerns, but at the heart of many policies to minimize greenhouse gas emissions is the need to transition to renewable energy sources.

Given the sizable number of respondents in surveys who have not yet been convinced of global warming’s threat and its links to man-made emissions, one wonders whether maybe we should begin to focus on educating the current and future generations, rather than relying on the economics of renewable energy and the energy security they provide.

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

  • Adam Devereaux

    Polling has shown significant changes in public opinion based on recent weather- the Midwest has seen a mild summer and an extremely harsh winter. A large chunk in the middle will sway back and forth, however I believe more and more reasonable people are realizing the weather is increasingly behaving out of norms and will respond well to changes in how the media are starting to acknowledge the scientific consensus.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I agree. It seems to me that there’s been a shift in the public at large. It seems that more people are accepting what the science is saying. They may not be ready to take to the streets to demand change, but we seem to be on the way.

      At the same time it seems like I’m seeing fewer and fewer simpleminded denial. Even the ‘professional deniers’ like Lord Mockton seem to have quieted down.

  • Michael G

    Joshua: in answer to yoru question at the end, No, we shouldn’t waste time trying to convince the unconvinceable. Global warming will only be held to tolerable levels if it is cheaper to get energy from renewables than from GHG emitters. Wind: we are there now, PV: now in some places, everywhere in a few years, EV a few years more.

    In some cases, like developing countries, it is already cheaper to put up solar panels than stringing out miles of cable.

    The weather is getting very weird very fast and convincing more people all the time. In FL sewers are backing up after even light rains, the canals meant to drain the swamps are flowing backwards. It is affecting the gubernatorial race there. The 15% will never concede. The 85% are getting their nose shoved in it.

    • Omega Centauri

      I mostly agree with Michael. We have to proceed along the lines of getting the energy transition done -or at least the first major part of the conversion done, even if people aren’t convinced about AGW. We can still get them motivated by other issues, such as energy security, local pollution effects, keeping energy expenditures in the local economy versus distant fossil fuel interests etc.

      What we see policywise, looks a lot like poll option number two -we are doing a little bit, but not nearly enough. But we should be able to accelerate the transition even without having enough on board about the climate urgency.

      Longer term, it would sure help to have people convinced of the climate emergency. Getting the last ten percent of carbon energy out of the system might require political will -as the cost for overbuilding renewable generation plus storage will likely start biting by then. But we won’t be there for decades, and the road to getting there doesn’t require climate buyin.

  • Brokelyn

    But they forgot the most important opinion poll – what the Koch Bothers want.

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