Washington — More Americans believe steps taken to reduce global warming pollution will help the U.S. economy than say such measures will hurt it. It’s a sign the public is showing more faith in President Barack Obama’s economic arguments for limiting heat-trapping gases than in Republican claims that the actions would kill jobs.
In an Associated Press-Stanford University poll, 40 percent said U.S. action to slow global warming in the future would create jobs. Slightly more, 46 percent, said it would boost the economy.
By contrast, less than a third said curbing climate change would hurt the economy and result in fewer jobs, a message Republican members of Congress plan to take to an international global warming conference in Copenhagen this week.
“They’re wrong,” Ron Classen of Seattle, who participated in the poll, said of the GOP stance. “People are going to be shifted from one job to another,” said Classen, a self-described fan of environmentalist and former Vice President Al Gore.
The survey’s results seem to boost Democratic efforts to curb global warming pollution and sign on to an international agreement to reduce heat-trapping gases, despite the concerns many Americans have about the recession and the high unemployment rate.
For some, the recession has manifested itself in a nothing-left-to-lose attitude when it comes to tackling climate and to sparking a revolution in where and how the nation produces its energy.
“I don’t know if anybody has looked around lately, but the economy is dead,” said Jake Berglund, a home-improvement contractor from Portland, Conn. “We are in a sinking ship, and Obama has bought us enough life rafts to keep on going. But we need to figure out how to build a new boat when we are still on the water.”
The poll, however, also suggests that Americans have limits to how much they want to pay to address global warming. Obama and many Democrats in Congress envision shifting the country away from burning fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy, in a part by passing a new law that would set up a cap-and-trade system that puts a price on pollution.