Americans are increasingly concerned about drought and other extreme weather conditions. And, according to a survey conducted for the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI), two-thirds of Americans want the government to take action on weather extremes.
Conducted July 26-30, 2012, the CSI survey found 81 percent of Americans are concerned about “increased drought” and other extreme weather conditions. Three out of four Americans – including 61 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Democrats and 80 percent of Independents – believe that “with all the current concern about severe drought and the risk of water shortages, America needs to start focusing more on alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, that require less water,” according to CSI.
Key findings of the survey include:
- Shortages of safe drinking water due to drought and “the diversion of water for energy production” is the No. 1 overall worry in the 10 drought-stricken states with 63 percent “very concerned,” reaching highs of 74 percent in Florida and 71 percent in Georgia. Nationwide, nearly two thirds (64 percent) of Americans are “very concerned” about the prospect of “possible shortages of safe drinking water” due to drought and diversion for energy production. This issue is topped nationally only by concerns about higher food prices (66 percent), and is trailed by higher gasoline prices (61 percent), higher utility bills (49 percent), and diminished recreational activities (24 percent).
- More than four out of five Americans (85 percent) – including 76 percent of Republicans, 91 percent of Democrats and 88 percent of Independents – say that the availability of ample clean water should be a top national priority for the U.S. In drought-hit states, the total rises to 86 percent in California and 90 percent in Georgia.
- Nearly two out of three Americans (65 percent) believe “the national government needs to do more to address extreme weather impacts.” In drought states, views on this issue are strongest in Nevada (69 percent) and Florida (76 percent).
- Americans want an energy/water “road map” for the U.S. Nearly nine out of 10 Americans (89 percent) – including 86 percent of Republicans, 93 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of Independents – believe that “U.S. energy planning and decision making must be made with full knowledge and understanding about the availability of water regionally and locally, and the impact this water use from specific energy choices has on their economies, including agricultural production.”
“We now understand all too well the harsh realities of the current drought and its relationship to changes in the climate from global warming,” said Civil Society Institute president Pam solo in a press release issued Thursday. “America’s 'all of the above' non-solution for electricity generation is a dead-end path – one requiring vast amounts of water for coal-fired power plants, nuclear reactors and the fracking extraction of natural gas.”
Solo criticized Congress for not following up on a 2005 mandate that instructed the U.S. Department of Energy to produce a water/energy roadmap.
“Seven years later, we have neither a roadmap nor even a general understanding of what water resources we do have,” Solo said. “We don’t know what the competition between energy, agriculture, industrial and residential uses will mean for food security and the dependability and costs of energy sources that are reliant on increasingly scarce water. The sad truth is that we are flying blind today when we could have had the foundation for a national water/energy plan in place years ago.”
The survey, conducted for CSI by ORC International, found that two-thirds of Americans now believe that climate change is “real” or “appears to be happening.” Just six percent of respondents said climate change is “definitely not happening.”
Of those who said they believe climate change is real or appears to be happening, 73 percent have been influenced in their views by “recent extreme weather events in the united States – including drought, wildfires, high-wind storms, and other developments.”
Additionally, the survey found that 77 percent of respondents are concerned about the drilling process known as fracking.
Full survey findings http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org