Building environmental policy based on America’s support for a clean environment
Listening to the rhetoric of some politicians on the campaign trail, it would be easy to think that most Americans are opposed to protecting the environment and that government should let the market regulate itself.for decades Gallup poll Questions are raised about the false trade-offs between economic growth and environmental protection. While the question is flawed, it shows that, with few exceptions, the public has for decades prioritized environmental quality over economic growth. From 1985 to 2000, about 60-70% of people supported environmental protection and 30% supported economic growth. From 2011 to 2013, a minority supported economic development, but since 2016, the majority again supports environmental protection. In the latest poll in early 2023, 52% supported protecting the environment and 42% supported economic growth. In the same poll, about 56% of the public responded that the government was doing too little to protect the environment, and 18% thought the government was doing too much. Gallup also reports that 60% of Americans believe global warming has already begun, while 12% believe it will never happen.
Likewise, a recent high-quality survey pew research center Found on:
“…Survey of 10,329 U.S. adults conducted from May 30 to June 4, 2023…[that] 74% of Americans say they support U.S. participation in international efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change… 67% of U.S. adults prioritize developing alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and hydrogen over increasing the production of fossil fuel energy. Americans overwhelmingly support a series of concrete policy proposals aimed at reducing the effects of climate change by targeting greenhouse gas emissions and carbon in the atmosphere…A clear majority supports planting about a trillion trees around the world. Sequester carbon emissions (89%) and require oil and gas companies to seal methane gas leaks from wells (85%)… 76% favor tax credits for companies developing carbon capture technology and 70% support tax credits based on carbon emissions Tax corporations… 61% favor requiring electricity to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2040.
While the public favors measures to develop renewable energy, they oppose efforts to ban all fossil fuels and internal combustion engines. The survey also found that Republicans tend to have a more positive view of fossil fuels, while Democrats favor renewable energy. Young people are more concerned about the environment than older people, and this concern is increasing.According to March 2023 Harvard Youth Poll The Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government surveyed more than 2,000 respondents ages 18-29 and found that 50 percent believed “the government should do more to curb climate change, even at the expense of economic growth.” The 50% result should be compared with the 29% who supported stronger climate policies in 2013.
Americans understand the dangers of environmental pollution but are deeply skeptical of public policy on environmental pollution. force Changes in the behavior of the public at large. My view is that regulatory rules and standards are necessary, but the approach to achieving them should focus on positive incentives rather than negative disincentives. People should take the initiative to protect the environment rather than being forced to do so. Strategies that shame individuals or institutions that damage the environment are less effective than policies that reward action to protect the environment. Many environmental advocates also tend to refer to environmental damage as an “existential threat” because, for some, there are more immediate existential threats, such as homelessness, hunger, drug addiction, or the threat of gang violence. A vision is required. Is global warming more dangerous than nuclear terror? Humanity faces many dangers and the public faces competing demands for their attention and support.
Although majorities support environmental protection, support for the environment among Republicans tends to be lower than among Democrats. Add to that the unrepresentative elements of our political system, such as gerrymandering, the Electoral College, the U.S. Senate and its filibuster rules, and overwhelming majorities of public opinion are often needed to influence public policy. Anti-environmental views, although often cloaked in the glory of freedom and markets, are often a reflection of the political power of short-term economic interests. They’re also common in Republican primaries in deep red states, where disinformation about environmental policy or renewable energy technology and economics is all too common.
However, American culture’s widespread concern with the health and wellness of family and friends has led to a focus on fitness and diet, leading directly to the need for clean water, air, and toxin-free food. Our goal is not to create a pristine environment, but one where people stay healthy. Some opponents of environmental protection view it as a luxury or secondary to the goals of producing and accumulating wealth. Early environmental efforts required us to retrofit catalytic converters in cars or install chimney scrubbers in power plants. This reduces pollution but increases costs. In the 1970s, the relationship between air pollution and public health was not yet understood, and most people viewed the environment as an aesthetic issue. However, the linkage of air pollution to asthma and lung cancer, and of toxic waste to cancer and other diseases, has transformed the environment from an aesthetic issue to a public health concern.Technological innovations such as solar energy, batteries and electric vehicles also make pollution reduction possible indispensable Product design that results in less pollution, provides a better product, and lowers costs instead of higher.
Many people, though not all, understand the connection between environmental protection and economic growth. The trade-off question Gallup has used for decades is a false trade-off. Pollution is waste, and its effects are far from costless. Pollution is a drag on economic development, and a clean environment promotes economic development. Pollution increases costs due to the economic impact of extreme weather events, health care costs, lost production, elimination of valuable ecological services, and a variety of additional costly impacts. The field of industrial ecological engineering demonstrates the cost advantages of closed system production. Careful consideration of environmental risks is one element of sound analysis of financial risks. Economic development sometimes ignores environmental impacts because polluters think someone else will pay for the cleanup. However, in a world of instant, cheap communication and universal ease of observation, it has become relatively easy to link environmental pollution to environmental impacts and costs. Indeed, some companies, such as the owners of the Cancer Lane petrochemical plant in Louisiana, use political influence to avoid responsibility for environmental cleanup and impact costs. I believe that as exposure increases, companies increasingly have to pay the cost of impact. What’s more, investors are beginning to question the risks of costs due to environmental impacts. It also shows that the trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth is losing credibility in financial markets.
Support for environmental protection is based on the health and economic costs of environmental pollution. Awareness of these costs has grown over the past few decades. It turns out that the economic benefits from pollution are short-term or even non-existent. Part of our culture insists that pollution must be tolerated in order to bring about economic benefits. Indoor air pollution is a good example. When current New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg proposed banning smoking in restaurants and bars, owners of those establishments complained loudly that he would put them out of business. Imagine their surprise when they discovered that business generally improved after the smoking ban. It turns out that many people don’t like the smoke in certain places and either stay at home or go to places where smoking is prohibited to do business. The economic value of clean air is as obvious as the air itself.
Although environmental protection enjoys widespread support, many environmental initiatives face political opposition. Part of this is due to our polarized political process and the ideological extremes it embodies. Some objections stem from environmentalists’ framing of the problem and their tendency to frame environmental policy debates as a battle between good and evil. To develop winning strategies for promoting environmental protection, we should look at our many success stories and seek to imitate them. Our air and water are cleaner today than they were in the early 1970s when the EPA first had the power to set national environmental standards. We embrace incremental improvements, provide federal subsidies, and focus on developing new technologies to improve environmental quality. Policies are based on widely shared values. Our air pollution policy is based on a simple fact that I repeat often: Everyone loves to breathe – we’re used to it.