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Poll: Global warming more of a concern for Californians

Samantha Young

SACRAMENTO (AP) – Californians rank global warming among their top three environmental concerns, saying it is more of a problem than water pollution and pollution in general, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The annual survey by the nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California found that adults are increasingly listing global warming as the most important environmental issue, believe global warming has already begun and say the state needs to take immediate action to deal with it.

While air pollution and energy issues remain the top two environmental concerns, voters are giving global warming more attention. And that sentiment was realized before the current heat wave that is stifling much of the state.



“There is a growing awareness and concern, including the fact that global warming isn’t just melting the glaciers,” said PPIC survey director Mark Baldassare.

In fact, eight in 10 residents said they believed warming would seriously threaten the state’s economy and their quality of life.



When it comes to the gubernatorial race, 85 percent of likely voters said the candidates positions on the environment were important. Both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and challenger Phil Angelides have sought to portray themselves as environmental advocates.

While Angelides was the favorite among those who labeled the environment as very important, Schwarzenegger received more support from people who considered the environment somewhat important.

“He’s getting fairly significant support from people who care about environmental issues,” Baldassare said of Schwarzenegger. “And for a Republican, that is an important political feat on his part.”

Schwarzenegger’s overall approval rating among adults was 42 percent, higher than 36 percent in May, and his environmental record was supported by 39 percent.

That’s better than Californians’ opinion of President Bush. Overall, 36 percent approved of Bush’s job performance, but just 30 percent agreed with his handling of the environment and 29 percent with his energy policy.

The telephone survey of 2,501 adult residents found that 65 percent of adults want California to act on its own to slow global warming, without waiting for the federal government.

Of those surveyed, 73 percent said they were registered to vote. Only those individuals were asked the election-related questions, according to a copy of the poll questionnaire.

Specifically, two-thirds of likely voters supported a bill moving through the Legislature that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. About three in four adults said the state should set mandatory emission caps of greenhouse gases on oil, electric and natural gas facilities.

They also said lawmakers should reduce California’s dependence on fossil fuels and increase funding to develop alternative sources of energy such as solar, geothermal and wind power.

By contrast, most polled said they opposed the construction of more nuclear power plants or oil drilling off the California coast.

The survey was conducted between July 5 and July 18 and was paid for by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

It has an error margin of plus or minus 2 percentage points for questions answered by all the participants, plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for questions asked of all registered voters and plus or minus 3 percentage points for questions asked of participants classified as likely voters.

On the Net:

Read the survey at http://www.ppic.org

Read AB32, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov


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