By David Pendered
A majority of metro Atlanta residents think global warning is happening, is caused by human activities and is affecting the weather. A majority thinks global warming will harm future generations, according to a new survey by an affiliate of Yale University.
In addition, about 59 percent of metro Atlanta residents think Georgia’s governor should do more to address global warming. The issue hasn’t gained much traction in the campaigns of gubernatorial candidates Stacy Abrams and Brian Kemp.
Kemp’s website references his thoughts on the environment in an introductory video titled, Brian Kemp’s Story of Fighting – and Winning – for Georgia:
- “I love to hunt. I love to fish. Grew up playing sports. Taught responsibility, love of the land, how to handle a firearm.”
Abrams’ website touches on the environment in a platform plank related to her support for the creation of advanced energy jobs:
- “Georgia deserves a leader who sees clean, advanced energy as a stable source of economic development, a public health necessity, and an environmental justice imperative.”
The survey findings are included in the 2018 edition of the Yale Climate Opinion Maps, released Aug 7 by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. The program says it uses results of its research to engage different audiences in climate change solutions.
This is the same program that previously determined there are six Americas when it comes to climate change. These segments are occupied by those who are alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful or dismissive. These researchers also tracked an uptick in concern in the United States after Pope Francis released a paper in 2015 stating that climate change is real and is “a result of human activity.”
The new opinion survey registers concerns among adults 25 years or older in metro Atlanta.
Responses to the survey’s 26 questions suggest that metro Atlantans are in agreement with the nation as a whole on many issues related to climate change. That is, the local responses are within the 8 percent margin of error compared to the national responses.
For example, 82 percent of metro Atlanta residents support tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels, results show. The rate mirrors the national average.
Of note, this is the type of incentive that state lawmakers eliminated in 2015. The Legislature waived a $2,500 tax credit on alternate-fuel vehicles as a way to help pay for the Transportation Funding Act.
Yet global warming isn’t a top-of-mind issue for most residents of metro Atlanta, or the nation.
Twenty percent of area residents say they hear about global warming in the media at least once a week; the remaining 80 percent hear of global warming monthly, a few times a year or never. That’s on par with the national average.
A third of metro residents talk about global warming at least occasionally. The other answers provided to respondents were often, rarely and never. Again, the national average is in line with that of metro Atlanta.
Regarding the long-discussed proposal to charge fossil fuel companies a carbon tax, 69 percent of metro Atlantans support the notion. Again, that’s in line with the national response.
However, these answers may be misleading because the question was not precise or specific, according to David Kyler, executive director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, on St. Simons Island. Kyler raised the issue as he drew attention to the survey’s broader findings.
The question presented to respondents was:
- “How much do you support or oppose the following policies?
“Require fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and use the money to reduce other taxes (such as income tax) by an equal amount.”
Kyler viewed the question as allowing wiggle room for respondents who saw a way to reduce their taxes. And it did not address the issue of using a carbon tax to remediate past damages, he said.
“The survey is encouraging but inconclusive because it ties fossil fuel tax increases to reducing other taxes,” Kyler said in an email exchange Monday. “That could provide an incentive for some respondents to support the proposal regardless of impacts on reducing greenhouse gases. Also uncertain is whether any revenue generated would be used to compensate for damages done by fossil fuel emissions.”