Saturday, January 24, 2009

Managing the biggest global warming problem -- the American public

It's been noted before that an African Plains Ape is going to worry more about global cooling than global warming. That's particularly true for apes living in a temperate climate ...
Obama Urgent on Warming, Public Cool - Dot Earth Blog -

The latest in an annual series of polls from the Pew Research Center on people’s top priorities for their elected leaders shows that America and President Obama are completely out of sync on human-caused global warming...

According to the survey of 1,503 adults, global warming, on its own, ranks last out of 20 surveyed issues. Here’s the list from top to bottom, with the economy listed as a top priority by 85 percent of those polled and global warming 30 percent: the economy, jobs, terrorism, Social Security, education, energy, Medicare, health care, deficit reduction, health insurance, helping the poor, crime, moral decline, military, tax cuts, environment, immigration, lobbyists, trade policy, global warming...
The only reason global warming outranks head lice is that the public wasn't asked to compare the two.

Well, we knew this was going to be hard. The American public has been in the Twilight Zone for eight years, it's going to take years of education before there's public acceptance of a carbon tax, even a carbon tax that's offset by other tax cuts.

The history of tobacco education is both encouraging and discouraging. Encouraging because it worked, discouraging because the groundbreaking Surgeon General's report was published in 1964, but smoking in classrooms persisted into the 1970s. The real social transformations took place in the 1980s, and smoking bans in the 1990s.

So initial change took ten years, but real change took a generation. Of course the health impacts of smoking were not exactly deniable; even the hell-spawn tobacco marketers gave up on that line by the 70s. (Odd how Team Inferno also led GOP climate change denialism).

Since we're basically at ground zero in the US, this puts American acceptance of public sacrifice at least 10-15 years away. The 8 years of Bush-led paralysis may end up being the GOP's greatest crime -- which is saying something.

Well, it's probably too late for CO2 production control anyway.

Obama will have to move on things without public knowledge or support. That means a lot of money for public education (even if the results will take another 10 years), research on climate engineering and low CO2 emission energy, EPA limits on CO2 production to reduce coal driven CO2 emissions, a gasoline tax for "energy independence" that will be offset by a payroll tax, and backroom deals with China and India.

The single most important contributor to human survival, however, will be to keep an unreformed GOP out of power. That's why Obama is going to have to tread softly, and act covertly -- the electorate can't be frightened.

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