Quest for Power

Jul 25, 2007 8:37am

Stephen Ansolabehere, a political scientist at MIT, has done a survey of Americans’ attitudes toward different sources of energy, and reports that oil has an image problem.  "Americans now strongly wish to reduce the use of oil, and they view this energy source less favorably than any other source of power," he writes in the abstract.  "It has supplanted nuclear power as the least liked energy source," he writes later.  Nuclear, in the meantime, has become somewhat more popular than it was when he did a similar survey in 2002.  The abstract is HERE, and the full survey is HERE. Ansolabehere said people based their preferences first on the cost of electricity from each source, "but environmental harm systematically had stronger effects on preferences."  Despite Iraq, environmental issues, and rise in gas prices, people’s views, Ansolabehere says people’s views about energy have been fairly stable.  The people surveyed have, in his words, "extremely optimistic views of alternative energy sources — solar, wind, and hydroelectric — especially as far as price is concerned.  They have more realistic views of traditional fuels – fossil fuels plus nuclear power."    Ansolabehere and his team surveyed 1,200 people each time "Beyond the changing support for oil and nuclear power," Ansolabehere wrote to me in an email, "we found a striking disconnect between concern about global warming and support for nuclear power — the two are uncorrelated.  The up tick in support for nuclear power is not driven by fears of global warming as by other considerations, such as the sense that the nation needs alternative energy sources in order to keep electricity prices low."  Take a look at his numbers.  Do your feelings match those he found?

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