Who believes in polls?

I do when several polls tell the same story.

In the New Scientist magazine (published in Great Britain) which arrived recently, in an article entitled “Global Warming: The Buck Stops Here,” I read that Americans believe that global warming looms larger than any other threat.

Several polls asking the same questions reveal that seven out of 10 Americans want the federal government to take action. But an intriguing question needing assessment was: “How will the Americans react to the costs associated with such actions?”

New Scientist joined forces with the Stanford University polling team and Resources for the Future, a Washington environmental think tank, to tackle this question.

The questions were framed as offering three options for reducing greenhouse emissions. Each option included both electricity costs and fuel costs, for a total of six options.

1.) Standards (also known as mandates): The government would tell each company exactly what they needed to do to reduce emissions.

2.) Emissions yax: The government imposes a tax on greenhouse emissions.

3.) Cap and yrade: Polluting companies are issued tradable credits.

Eighty-five percent answered “yes,” when asked, “Do you believe that global warming has probably been happening?” Another clear and striking result was that the U.S. public prefers any cost increases to come more from the electricity sector rather than fuel costs.

Standards rated highly in the poll, there was general lack of enthusiasm for emissions taxes, and the cap and trade option is looked upon with suspicion.

What does all this mean to us here in Maine?

I believe it means that our local, state and national politicians need to become more aware of the issues of global warming, and how it is and will be affecting our own community. They need to be offering policies that address the issue on local levels, such as placing new housing units in a more sustainable layout to encourage less vehicle use. They should vote favorably for issues that create parks that preserve wildlife habitat. Town councils should make it a priority to consider the environmental results of their every decision.

And it means that each of us must consider the environmental results of our every decision and our every action. If each of us were to “walk with care upon this Earth,” it could mean that the chaos of global warming might be mitigated in the short term.

Windham resident Sally Breen is chairwoman of the Peace Action Maine board of directors.

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