Give the People What They Want: Clean Energy

solar panelsAmericans are definitely getting the message about the benefits of wind and solar energy. According to a new survey by renowned Harvard political scientist Stephen Ansolabehere, the vast majority of Americans prefer renewable energy sources to fossil fuels.
As quoted in this PV Magazine article, Ansolabehere found that “Americans want to move away from coal, oil, and nuclear power and toward wind and solar. About 80% of Americans want renewables to increase a lot, an another 10% or so want it to increase somewhat.”
These clean-energy supporters aren’t necessarily focused on using less energy, but they do believe that wind and solar technologies are healthier alternatives than other fuels. Oil, coal, and nuclear are seen as harmful to health, and natural gas is viewed as somewhat harmful – a “bridge fuel,” to be used only until clean energy can take over. This tepid support for natural gas may be influenced by recent reports of the dangers of fracking (a relatively new and controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale).
The survey results show the value of leading with solutions when trying to engage people on climate issues. People don’t always have to be convinced that climate change exists in order to support solutions – in fact, being told how climate solutions will improve their future often makes them more open to acceptance of climate change.
For more about the value of emphasizing solutions and benefits in your climate communications, see Principle #3 of our new guide, Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Communication.

Solar Overwhelmingly Popular in U.S., Says Harvard Scientist

Ian Clover, contributor to PV Magazine
A renowned Harvard political scientist has told an audience of climate scientists, physicist, economists and public-policy experts at the University of Chicago that the American public is overwhelmingly supportive of solar and wind energy.
Following a 12-year survey, Stephen Ansolabehere – a Harvard government professor – has concluded that the majority of Americans prefer renewable energy sources over coal, oil and nuclear energy, and see natural gas as a bridge fuel that falls between the two stools of renewables and dirtier fossil fuels.
The scientist’s findings were reported at the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago (EPIC). Ansolabehere told the audience how he began surveying Americans in 2001 on their energy preferences in response to scientists at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) calling on him to gauge public opinion on the U.S.’s climate change initiatives.
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