Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Debate That Will Shape America's Future

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, the Massey, West Virginia coal mine accident, the Tennessee coal ash disaster in 2008, the BP oil refinery disaster in Texas in 2006, and countless other fossil fuel disasters are finally having an effect on public opinion. And the sting of record prices from 2008 is still in the recent memory of American consumers. Fully 2/3 of Americans believe Congress needs to make our country's energy needs a top priority.

Recent polls have found, however, that a shrinking portion of America believes that climate change is a human-caused problem or that we need to take serious action to mitigate climate change. A May, 2010, poll by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press found that only 32% of Americans thought that climate change should be a “top priority” for Congress (see chart, below).

This is the debate, revolving around energy and climate change, that will define America’s future. It is not the only debate that will do so, but I believe it is the most important debate we will have over the coming decades.

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