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Americans Want Clean Energy–But Why?

New poll numbers released by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) show that Americans from both political parties believe the same things when it comes to the environment–air quality is getting worse, climate change is happening (and is happening because of humans), and that the United States needs a new energy policy.  They even agree on...

New poll numbers released by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) show that Americans from both political parties believe the same things when it comes to the environment–air quality is getting worse, climate change is happening (and is happening because of humans), and that the United States needs a new energy policy.  They even agree on why the U.S. needs that new energy policy, but, according to the poll, that reason has nothing to do with climate change.

Pollster Frank Luntz, whose firm tests messaging for corporations and political candidates, polled 1007 registered voters from both political parties in an effort to determine how legislators should frame the upcoming climate change legislation debate in Congress.  

The Luntz poll found that while Americans do think climate change is happening, they are more are interested in the economic and social benefits that a new energy policy will create–new American jobs, energy independence and national security, and innovation that will help the U.S. compete with other countries.  Decreasing pollution came in close behind these other benefits. 

The poll found that more people believed the air quality in the U.S. and worldwide has declined than believed it has improved or stayed the same.  And while most couldn’t deny that climate changes were due to anthropogenic sources, more Republicans than Democrats were skeptical.

“This is a crucial moment in the effort to pass national climate legislation that limits carbon emissions,” said EDF President Fred Krupp, in a statement. 

“[Luntz’s] research proves that that no matter who Americans voted for in

2008, in 2010 they want to see Congress act on climate legislation.

It’s a national security priority, it’s a crucial means to reduce

pollution, and it’s essential to creating permanent American jobs.”

–James Robertson

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Meet the Author

David Max Braun
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn