What was discussed with the citizens by the friendly pollsters at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) was AB 32, also known as the Greenhouse Gas Law. AB 32 advocates such things as the production of low emission automobiles and controlling what comes out of smokestacks. A far more reasonable appoach than what its prodigal son, SB 375, threatens us with. And while it is unfortunate that the now overshadowed AB 32 is the focus of this survey, we'll take whatever information we can get. Here's how the PPIC reports it:
Solid majorities of Californians favor state policies to curb global warming, according to a survey released today ... But in a year that has seen both a worsening recession and state budget crisis, residents' support for urgent action on climate change has slipped and a partisan divide on the issue has widened.
Most residents (66%) support the 2006 California law (AB 32) that requires greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. Support has declined 7 points from July 2008 (73%) and 12 points from 2007 (78%). The decline is sharpest among Republicans (57% 2008, 43% today).
Now AB 32, at least on the surface, is obviously something that does not seem threatening to your average voter. It deals mainly with automobile and smokestack emissions as the source of greenhouse gases, with the solution being the reduction of just that through the creation of cleaner and more efficient technologies. But even with a law that puts the burden mostly on the industrial creators of greenhouse gases and not the consumers of their products, enthusiasm on the topic has begun to wane a bit.
While most see global warming as a threat (47% very serious, 28% somewhat serious) to the economy and quality of life in the state, the percentage of residents who categorize the threat as very serious has declined over the past two years (54% 2007, 52% 2008, 47% today.) Residents are divided over whether the state government should take action to reduce emissions right away (48%) or wait until the economy and state budget situation improve (46%). In July 2008, when the plan to implement AB 32 was being discussed, a majority (57%) said the government should adopt it right away rather than wait (36%).
But as I said above, this really is an out-of-date consideration. Most of the people questioned for this poll probably felt that they were being asked about things such as automakers being required to sell them cars that emit lower levels of greenhouse gases. A quaint concept that really is far less relevant today than it was a couple years back. Because the boys in Sacramento apparently aren't all that concerned about improving the energy efficiency of cars anymore. They have much bigger fish to fry.
What those polled were not asked about is the far more draconian SB 375. I can only wonder how people would react upon being informed that redevelopers sanctioned by the state and backed by the courts might be seizing entire neighborhoods of their cities in order to build massive amounts of high-density multiple-use structures designed in part to house the economically disadvantaged. And I'd really like to see a poll that would get the reaction of these same people upon being informed that packing thousands of new residents into their towns (with all the resulting problems that go with such radically engineered social change) is being done to somehow reduce greenhouse gases.
Somehow I think their support for such an initiative would fade a bit.
A related Los Angeles Times article about this poll can he found here.