Mark Baldassare, Dean Bonner, Jennifer Paluch, and Sonja Petek
The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released its latest statewide survey on July 30. This is the 88th PPIC Statewide Survey and the eighth in the Californians and the Environment survey series, whose intent is to inform policymakers, encourage discussion, and raise public awareness about environment, education, and population issues. This survey was conducted with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The current survey focuses on the related issues of air quality, global warming, and energy and the environment because these are current topics of public policy discussion in local, state, and federal government. A 2006 PPIC survey conducted with funding from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation focused on the state's marine and coastal issues.
Some findings of the current survey:
- Californians rank air pollution as the most important environmental issue facing the state. Fewer than one in four Californians are very satisfied (17%) with the air quality in their region but there exist big differences by regions and demographic groups, with blacks and Latinos (31% each) much more likely than whites (16%) or Asians (8%) to say air pollution is a very serious health threat.
- Half of Californians (52%) say global warming is a very serious threat to the state's economy and quality of life, and more than six in 10 (64%) say its effects have already begun, a 7-point increase from 2005.
- Eight in 10 (80%) believe steps should be taken right away, a percentage that has increased 7 points since 2003.
- Californians report that they are changing their behavior: The number of workers who drive to work alone has dropped 11 points in five years (73% 2003, 62% 2008). Nearly seven in 10 residents (69%) report cutting back significantly on their driving, and nearly three in four (74%) are seriously considering a more fuel-efficient car the next time they buy a vehicle.
- 51% of Californians favor more oil drilling off the coast - a 10-point increase since July 2007; but it also showed that 83 percent want more federal funding for wind, solar, and hydrogen technology (in a reality check for the climate change movement, numerous opinion polls since May are fueling politicians and candidates to push for more U.S. offshore oil drilling. But as John Wihbey writes, "with all polls, the framing is paramount and the media's interpretation crucial."
- About half of Californians believe people will have to make major sacrifices to reduce global warming's impact.