Both conservatives and liberals want a green energy future, but for different reasons

Wind turbines in the first rays of sunlight at the Saddleback Ridge Wind Project in Carthage, Maine, March 20, 2019. AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

Deidra Miniard, Indiana University; Joe Kantenbacher, Indiana University, and Shahzeen Attari, Indiana University

Political divisions are a growing fixture in the United States today, whether the topic is marriage across party lines, responding to climate change or concern about coronavirus exposure. Especially in a presidential election year, the vast divide between conservatives and liberals often feels nearly impossible to bridge.

Our research examines what people know about the energy sources in use today in the United States, and what types of energy they would like to see the nation using in 2050. Energy connects to many important issues, including climate change, jobs and economic growth, equity and social justice, and international relations. It would be easy to assume that America’s energy future is a highly polarized topic, especially when the Trump administration is clashing with many states led by Democrats over energy policies.

However, in a nationwide online survey, we recently found that broad support exists across the political spectrum for a future powered mostly by renewable energy sources. Our work highlights a consensus around the idea that the United States needs to move its entire energy system away from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources.

Assessing perceptions

To explore people’s views on energy sources, we conducted an online survey of 2,429 adults across the U.S. Our participants represented a range of political ideologies, with 51% self-identifying as liberals, 20% as moderate and 29% as conservative. To investigate patterns in the data, we analyzed responses based on participants’ political ideologies.

Our survey asked people to estimate the shares that various energy sources contributed to all energy use in the United States, including activities like generating electricity, running factories, heating homes and powering vehicles. We asked participants to estimate what percentage of U.S. total energy used came from nine energy sources: coal, oil, natural gas, solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal and nuclear power.

Next we had participants describe what they viewed as an optimal mix of these nine energy sources that they hoped the U.S. would use in the year 2050. We also asked what kinds of policies they would support to move the nation from its current status to the future that they envisioned. In a follow-on study, we are examining how factors such as cost and environmental impact influence people’s preferences for one energy source versus others.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called on world governments to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in order to slow climate change – a goal that may not motivate conservative Americans.

Estimations of today’s energy mix

We found that our respondents had some misperceptions about where energy in the U.S. comes from. They tended to underestimate U.S. reliance on oil and natural gas and overestimate coal’s contribution. We believe Americans may not realize how dramatically electric utilities have switched from coal to gas for power generation over the past decade, and may therefore have dated impressions of coal’s prevalence.

Conversely, we found that participants overestimated the contribution of lesser-used energy sources – specifically, renewables like wind and solar power. This pattern may partially be explained by people’s general tendency to inflate estimates of small values and probabilities, which has been seen in areas ranging from household energy use and water use to risk of death.

In the case of the U.S. energy system, this bias means that people think our current energy system is greener than it really is, which could reduce the perceived urgency of shifting to lower-carbon sources.

Shared goals, divergent pathways

When we asked participants to indicate the amount of each energy source they hoped the U.S. would use in 2050, the broad consensus favored a future in which the nation primarily relied on renewable energy and used much less fossil fuel. Conservatives, moderates and liberals shared this outlook.

Particular preferences for a lower-carbon future varied somewhat by political ideology, but on average all groups supported an energy mix in which at least 77% of overall energy use came from low-carbon energy sources, including renewable fuels and nuclear power.

This bipartisan consensus wavered, though, when we asked participants whether they supported or opposed 12 energy policies – six that would lead to larger roles for low-carbon energy sources, and six that would increase use of fossil fuels.

Liberal participants showed strong support for policies consistent with increased use of low-carbon energy sources, such as providing government funding for renewable energy and subsidies for purchasing electric vehicles. They strongly opposed actions that would increase reliance on fossil fuels, such as relaxing oil drilling regulations or lowering fuel economy standards.

On average, conservative participants supported several policies that favored low-carbon energy use, though not as strongly as their liberal counterparts. Conservatives tended to be closer to neutral or only slightly opposed to policies that promote fossil fuel use.

The sharpest contrast between the two political groups was over building and completing pipelines to move oil from extraction points to refineries in the U.S. Several proposed pipelines have generated intense controversy in the past years. Conservatives generally supported pipeline development, and liberals generally opposed it.

Achieving a low-carbon future

An important argument for transitioning to low-carbon energy sources is to limit climate change to manageable levels. Recent polls show that climate change remains a politically divisive issue, with far more Democrats than Republicans rating it as extremely important to their vote in the 2020 presidential race.

Recent research has shown that both Democrats and Republicans strongly support renewable energy development, but do so for different reasons. Democrats prioritize curbing climate change, while Republicans are more motivated by reducing energy costs. We see these motivations playing out in the real world, where conservative oil-producing states like Texas are experiencing huge booms in renewable energy generation, driven primarily by the improving economics of renewable energy.

Realizing the shared vision of an energy system dominated by renewable energy will mean reconciling partisan differences over how to achieve that future. While there is no single rationale that will convince all Americans to support a transition to low-carbon energy sources, our results are encouraging because we find consensus on the U.S. energy future – everyone agrees that it should be green.

[Insight, in your inbox each day. You can get it with The Conversation’s email newsletter.]

Deidra Miniard, PhD Student in Environmental Science, Indiana University; Joe Kantenbacher, Research Associate in Environmental Science, Indiana University, and Shahzeen Attari, Associate Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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May 29, 2020 6:13 am

The authors are obviously members of the Narrative Weavers Guild.

Reply to  icisil
May 29, 2020 7:09 am

The typical academic knows little about energy and even less about climate.

They have uniformed opinions, and like fundaments, everybody’s got one.

Jeff Alberts
May 29, 2020 8:50 am

“They have uniformed opinions”

Their opinions get dressed up?

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
May 29, 2020 10:01 am

I hear they hired Hugo Boss for the makeover.

Interested Observer
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
May 29, 2020 10:08 pm

Allan, it may have been a typo yet, it’s still correct.

When it comes to certain subjects, the opinions of academics are quite uniform.

They all come out of the same mold, goose-stepping their way towards their imaginary socialist utopia.

May 29, 2020 11:03 am

typo – unINformed

May 29, 2020 12:22 pm

uniformly uninformed or unicorned?

An important argument for transitioning to low-carbon energy sources is to limit climate change to manageable levels.

Sound fami1iar ?

An important argument for transitioning to NO ECONOMY is to limit COVID infections to manageable levels.

All based on academics computer models showing catastrophic results if we do not do EXACTLY what the tell us to do.

This “research” sounds like an attempt to declare themselves winners of the non existent debate on climate: even conservatives agree with us ( just for different reasons ). ie there is no longer any opposition to going zero carbon, let’s get on with it !!

Even Obama had no illusions that renewables would make energy prices skyrocket.

huge booms in renewable energy generation, driven primarily by the improving economics of renewable energy.

Mandates quotas and subsidies are the “primary driver” of the improving economics .

May 29, 2020 12:34 pm

I’m highly suspicious of their graphs of con / mod / lib wish lists for 2050 energy mix. They are damned near identical except for -5% oil/gas vs +5% solar. I doubt that libs would tolerate that much “fossil” fuel in their energy nirvana.

Neither do I believe that all groups would have any chosen exactly the same amount of hydro, biomass, nuclear and geothermal. These responces ( if that’s even what they are ) have been steered by leading questions.

There is a clear problem with their sampling for a start if they end up with 51% liberals . Probably most of the “self-identifying” conservatives were liberal who were lying about their affiliations.

This is as bogus as Cook’s cooked up 97% IMO>

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Greg
May 29, 2020 1:17 pm


Indeed! Plus how is “moderate” defined? Are they moderate liberals or moderate conservatives?

It’s highly likely the survey respondents were truly 70% liberal and 30% conservative.

Reply to  Greg
May 29, 2020 3:52 pm

Likely that the “conservatives” had already voted multiple times as “liberals”.

Another risible grade school level effort masquerading as a semi-serious effort.
Too late for April 1st and too early for Halloween.

Bryan A
Reply to  Greg
May 29, 2020 7:51 pm

Hydro and geothermal could be similar due to the highly limited locales available for generation

Reply to  Greg
June 9, 2020 7:01 am

And, how about those of us who decry ANY government program to shift us from one energy source to another? Some (many/most?) of us want the mix to be decided purely on which source fits the bill on cost, reliability, and other market oriented factors, without the fraud of “Gee, solar and wind now are competitive against fossil fuels.”

Gas isn’t available in my part of town, so my home is (mostly) electric. My son uses a lot of propane (and a wood stove in winter). We decide for ourselves which is the best value of what’s available, which is as it should be.

Bryan A
May 29, 2020 7:49 pm

Uniformed worked well to, Their opinions are all dressed in the same green wash

Curious George
Reply to  icisil
May 29, 2020 7:22 am

People who don’t have a clue want a green energy future.

And, by the way, did that King have three sons, or three daughters?

Reply to  Curious George
May 29, 2020 12:28 pm

The energies that allows for the “greenest” future, are obviously coal and gas, as they supply much needed CO2 to the atmosphere.

Plants are green, and plants LUV CO2

Reply to  icisil
May 29, 2020 7:34 am

you can always tell…when they open up with some strawman narrative….

Political divisions are a growing fixture in the United States today, whether the topic is marriage across party lines, responding to climate change or concern about coronavirus exposure.

Reply to  Latitude
May 29, 2020 11:42 am

Didn’t Burr and Hamilton fight a duel over a political disagreement?

John Tillman
Reply to  Latitude
May 29, 2020 12:31 pm

Political divisions were pretty pronounced in 1860, too.

Reply to  icisil
May 29, 2020 11:37 am

Artsies, Social Scientists and Marxists understand almost nothing, so everything makes sense to them.

Typical green energy (e.g. grid-connected wind and solar) is not green and produces little useful (dispatchable) energy. Call it “greed-connected wind and solar”,

Few green energy technologies make sense, either technically, economically or environmentally.

The one green tech that does make sense is waste-to-energy – we have too much waste and we can use the energy.

May 29, 2020 12:38 pm

Sadly this gets called “bio-mass” and ends up meaning cutting down the trees which ecologists always wanted to “save”.

Reply to  Greg
May 30, 2020 11:45 am

Trees are not waste – excerpt for cleared underbrush, logging waste etc.

Waste-to-energy includes municipal garbage, industrial waste, food waste, etc – all of which can be transformed into energy with minimal pollution.

Ed Reid
May 29, 2020 6:16 am

Dominion (Virginia Power) appears to be less convinced of the “improving economics of renewable energy”.

Of course, everything is easy if someone else is responsible for actually doing it

Reply to  Ed Reid
May 29, 2020 8:38 am

My corollary to that is, “Nothing is so unimportant that you can’t spend someone else’s money on it.”

May 29, 2020 6:21 am

What are the chances that even if we were able to reduce atmospheric CO2 back to 350 ppmv levels, that that would coincide with what the weather/climate back when CO2 was at that previous level? Probably next to zero, because there are so many other variables that go into natural variation. Just saying we need to fight climate change by reducing emissions back to 350 ppm and that will be the holy grail for climate stability is just basic wishful thinking and/or BS. We really need to settle this question of sensitivity of CO2 to long term climate. Until we can predict and explain natural variation, all hope of changing the climate through anthro emissions is illusory. If anything, higher CO2 levels are what really lead to climate stability and Planet Green.

Reply to  Earthling2
May 29, 2020 12:32 pm

“Just saying we need to fight climate change by reducing emissions back to 350 ppm”…

is a load of codswallop, and would probably cause world food supply shortages.

What we need to be doing is aiming to boost the atmospheric CO2 levels to 700 – 1000 ppm.

That is the truly GREEN thing to do.

Reply to  fred250
May 29, 2020 12:57 pm

Let’s just assume getting back to 350ppm from today at 415 ppm is a good idea and we globally achieve zero emissions over the next 20 years by becoming hair shirt wearing hermits.

Has anyone any idea as to how many years it would then take for co2 levels to drop back to 350ppm?


Rich Davis
Reply to  Tonyb
May 29, 2020 2:44 pm

I reckon about 33 yrs of zero emissions.

That’s based on 2 ppm/yr increase in CO2 concentration and 50% of the human emissions going into natural sinks. Plus 2 ppm would have been 4 ppm without sinks, so the sink is negative 2 ppm/yr.
(415-350) = 65 ppm
65 ppm / (2 ppm/yr) = 32.5 yrs

Reply to  Tonyb
May 30, 2020 3:44 pm

If Ed Berry is correct in his paper, the observed increase in atmospheric CO2 is largely natural and human CO2 emissions play a minor part in the increase of CO2. Therefore, any human-caused downturn due zero emissions for several decades may be negligible or too small to detect. Check Reference #47. 🙂
Regards, Allan

From the Abstract:
“Human emissions through 2019 have added only 31 ppm to atmospheric CO2 while nature has added 100 ppm.”

by Edwin X Berry, Ph.D., Physics

The scientific basis for the effect of human carbon dioxide on atmospheric carbon dioxide rests upon correctly calculating the human carbon cycle. This paper uses the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) carbon-cycle data and allows IPCC’s assumption that the CO2 level in 1750 was 280 ppm. It derives a framework to calculate carbon cycles. It makes minor corrections to IPCC’s time constants for the natural carbon cycle to make IPCC’s flows consistent with its levels. It shows IPCC’s human carbon cycle contains significant, obvious errors. It uses IPCC’s time constants for natural carbon to recalculate the human carbon cycle. The human and natural time constants must be the same because nature must treat human and natural carbon the same. The results show human emissions have added a negligible one percent to the carbon in the carbon cycle while nature has added 3 percent, likely due to natural warming since the Little Ice Age. Human emissions through 2019 have added only 31 ppm to atmospheric CO2 while nature has added 100 ppm. If human emissions were stopped in 2020, then by 2100 only 8 ppm of human CO2 would remain in the atmosphere.

Rich Davis
May 31, 2020 12:27 pm

How can the basic mass balance be overcome? Which of these are in dispute?

1) The net increase of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has been approximately 2 ppm/yr.

2) The annual emissions of CO2 due to fossil fuel burning corresponds to about 4 ppm of the atmosphere.

3) Natural emissions + FF emissions – natural sink = atmospheric accumulation

The math doesn’t add up to claim that we can emit twice the rate of accumulation but have negligible influence on the rate of accumulation.

I don’t want to hear about time constants, please just address the simple mass balance. Input minus output equals accumulation.

If the mass balance isn’t satisfied, that is proof positive that the hypothesis you’re supporting must be flawed. I can’t point to the flaw and won’t waste my time trying to analyze something that fails to satisfy the mass balance.

I’m just biased in favor of that old chestnut, conservation of mass.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  fred250
June 1, 2020 1:44 am

Tonyb, “Has anyone any idea as to how many years it would then take for co2 levels to drop back to 350ppm?

Tonyb” –>

As things stand, state-of-the-art technology still gives

– co2 levels lag temperature 800 years –

While contrary results have never been shown, the Greens are left with no choice other then spreading “reasonable suspicions” , spreading “reasonable doubts” in order to promote their politically motivated goals.

.full stop.

Ken Irwin
May 29, 2020 6:22 am

“everyone agrees” – consensus again.

Most people certainly like the idea of weather dependent energy but are clueless as to what it will cost or how impractical it is in reality.

“Consider how stupid the average person is and then realize that more than half the population is stupider than that !” – George Carlin

A dumb survey conducted by dumb people on dumber participants.

A consensus of ignorance is meaningless.

Go back and redo the survey but only consult with electrical / power engineers – your are going to get an entirely different result.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Ken Irwin
May 29, 2020 8:52 am

“Most people certainly like the idea of weather dependent energy”

They do? I don’t think that’s the case.

Jim B
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
May 29, 2020 1:44 pm

In cold weather I want the heater to work.

Ken Irwin
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
May 30, 2020 6:04 am

I was being sarcastic – calling “renewables” by their real name.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  Ken Irwin
May 29, 2020 9:24 am

As you say Ken, the problem with surveying lay people in the general public like this is that the avg person likely does not understand much of anything about the science of the Earth’s climate and energy generation. Their opinions are likely based on what they’ve heard from the mass media and politicians who are all probably about as scientifically literate as the surveyed person is.

Yes, the U.S. is a democracy, but that does not necessarily mean that ALL govt policy should be based on what the general population thinks and believes about an issue or issues. On issues like climate and energy, general public opinion is not a suitable substitute for sound science coming from honest and capable scientists. Any effort to do make that substitute happen is undermining sound science for the sake of vested interests that are likely outside of science or perhaps not necessarily scientifically sound.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Ken Irwin
May 29, 2020 9:42 am

“Most people certainly like the idea of weather dependent energy but are clueless as to what it will cost or how impractical it is in reality.”

The author proves your point by claiming conservatives like unreliables because they think it will reduce their electric rates. The reality is unreliable wind and solar increase electric rates.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 29, 2020 11:15 am

And I’m more than happy to pay a premium for reliability! It isn’t just a matter of convenience. If power goes out for several days, as it sometimes does after a major storm, I’m liable to have to throw away all the spoiled food in my freezer, costing me considerable money.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
May 29, 2020 12:34 pm

“And I’m more than happy to pay a premium for reliability!”

Trouble is , that once wind and solar creep into the supply system, …

… you end up paying a premium for UNRELIABILITY. !

May 29, 2020 6:27 am

“However, in a nationwide online survey, we recently found that broad support exists across the political spectrum for a future powered mostly by renewable energy sources”

Yes of course it would be nicer to have no emissions particularly in a place like thailand where, for reasons not known to me, people don’t like to turn their car off when they park. The question is not what the ideal energy infrastructure would be in our imagination but what is possible today and more importantly the need for fear based activism to shove an energy infrastructure down our throats.

Our energy infrastructure is not a given but a work in progress that has always evolved and that will continue to evolve with ideas competing in the market place where the market and not fear based activism will select winners and weed out losers. If the climate change people had a good energy idea they would have taken it to the market for energy and they would not have needed to scare us with climate change and they would not have needed all those UN bureaucrats and all those COPs and all those fancy buzzwords.

Reply to  Chaamjamal
May 29, 2020 12:49 pm

for reasons not known to me, people don’t like to turn their car off when they park.

This is prevalent in emerging economies or people from those countries living in the west.

It part of the statement that ” I am here with my car ! ”

The car was not simply an arbitrary means of transport by which they happen to have arrived, it is a statement of their success. They are trying to make it more present by leaving it running.

Reply to  Greg
May 29, 2020 2:06 pm

Well, here in Houston in summertime you need to keep the car running or the onboard AC quits working.

May 29, 2020 6:27 am

The interesting conclusion I’d make is that if people realise how little of their energy comes from renewables and realise how much has been spent by governments and consumers they should also realise that to get to even 50% renewables will be massively expensive. Their overestimation of coal is a bit of a red herring because when one talks about fossil fuels gas is as much a fossil fuel as coal. So this misconception would not feed into thought about their future.
It’s clear if you make logical conclusions that one has to conclude that 77% of energy from renewables will mean that electricity will be a luxury item. I wonder how many of those surveyed had watched the Micheal Moore film. A survey taken before and after would be quite illuminating.
It’s easy to be idealistic about a hypothetical future when you don’t have to think about paying for it

May 29, 2020 6:36 am

Democrats are happy to rule over the ashes.

Bob Cherba
May 29, 2020 6:45 am

And I’d like to be a millionaire and live to see the democrats embrace the Constitution and capitalism.

Can I call this an aspirational poll? I’d like to see a perfect world, where people get along, there’s no poverty, etc., etc. However, it’s not going to happen. RE “green energy” has been grossly oversold to the public. Since public education has failed in science education, the vast majority of people have little or no idea how power is produced, and the limitations of RE and batteries. They also seem to believe that if the government requires something, science/engineers can deliver it.

As @luisbaram says (roughly), in 2050 fossil fuels/nuclear will still be responsible for 70% of our energy production.

Reply to  Bob Cherba
May 29, 2020 10:14 am

“Since public education has failed in science education …” It hasn’t just failed in science education – civics has been completely lost. But, then, would we really want today’s teachers teaching civics?

D. J. Hawkins
May 29, 2020 6:47 am

The only thing this survey proves is that liberals and conservatives are equally ignorant regarding how energy is produced, transported, and used, and the relative costs of energy sources. Some times I’d like to petition to join a different species.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
May 29, 2020 8:54 am

“Some times I’d like to petition to join a different species.”

You can self-identify as a female aardvark.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
May 29, 2020 9:08 am

I think you hit a key point.

Surely if the surveyed had known, that all over the planet electricity cost is nearly proportional with wind and solar per capita, then the surveyed would not have been so much in favor of “renewable”, regardless of political orientation.

Apart from that.

Where are the electricity producers during calm nights and the peaceful dark winter days, when the snow is falling so beautifully on the solar panels and the turbine wings need deicing?

Where are the fast reacting power plants to balance the grid?
The more solar and wind, the more you need the fast reacting electricity generators.

Where are the hydro turbines supposed to be placed in regions with few or no rivers to regulate (dams/elevation needed)?

If you do not educate people in an orderly fashion, they will respond to feelings, rather than rationality. This creates the problem, that the electric grid cannot be successfully build on feelings. The engineers know that, but are ordered to satisfy the wishes for a unicorn grid, with the result that electricity will be hugely expensive, very difficult to manage and lootingly aggressive on minerals.

Clint Eastwood is now ninety today – happy birthday.
Would his film, Bullet, be as famous if the Ford Mustang had been a battery car with angle-eyes? /SARC

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
May 29, 2020 4:33 pm

You’re mistaken.. Bullit starred Steve McQueen

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
May 29, 2020 12:38 pm

Did they actually “survey” conservatives, or were they liberals pretending to be conservatives.


What were the actual questions asked?

This sort of poll is usually worded in such a way that even a true conservative might get led to give a far-left viewpoint.

Keith Rowe
May 29, 2020 6:47 am

And everyone wants world peace, equality, free food and money for everyone. How do we get there…by online surveys showing support for these things.

May 29, 2020 7:02 am

Conservatives wouldn’t mind ‘green’ energy as long as it was reliable and cheap.

Liberals want to wean us off energy. They see useless ‘green’ energy as the tool to do that.

Giving society cheap, abundant energy … would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun. Ehrlich

Anyone who thinks there is a left-right consensus on ‘green’ energy is living in cloud cuckoo land. (I thought Maggie T. invented that phrase. Apparently it goes back to the Ancient Greeks.)

Reply to  commieBob
May 29, 2020 8:26 am

This the root of the issue, I think. People like Ehrlich understand that green energy can not be abundant. That means it can never be cheap. That is the goal. This is also why they don’t want nuclear for electrical power generation.

Many on the right also understand those basic facts, so they understand the consequences.

The common man be they on the left or the right does not understand those facts for the most part. They believe that green energy can be abundant and therefore cheap. Add to that they are lied to and told fossil fuel energy is dirty while green energy is clean.

May 29, 2020 7:09 am

A propaganda piece, nothing more.
In return, I have A Modest Proposal.
{With a nod to Johnathan Swift}

I know that the discussion about the future of nuclear power often goes to “small, modular” reactors, and thorium MSR types. This is all well and good.
However, I feel that there is a strong need for uranium breeder reactors, with full fuel reprocessing. A case can be easily made for using a nation’s electric power system for the production of industrial quantities of plutonium. Of course, this material can itself be used as reactor fuel, and also for weapons.
{The Greenies want a “carbon-free” energy source? I will give them one!}
International Considerations:
As we all know, for the last 70 years, nuclear arms have been the topic of intense international negotiations. Nuclear weapons treaties now cover every aspect of weapons procurement, deployment and use. We must note here that all these treaties regulate activities by Governments and their military. Obviously, governments can be most untrustworthy in these regards, so treaties spelling out rights and obligations are required.
In Contrast:
With all these negotiations, the Civilian acquisition, deployment, and use of nuclear arms has never been mentioned. In 70 years of negotiations. Not once. Ever.
It is easy to see that the Civilian acquisition, deployment, and use of nukes is not a serious concern, and never has been. Therefor……..
{You can all see where I am going with this. I better stop here.}
If I see any more about how great “Green Energy” is, I may respond with my proposal for neighborhood crime control. {Hint: Criminals – nuke them where they live.}

In honor of Johnathan Swift and his “A Modest Proposal”.

May 29, 2020 7:24 am

Wants do not trump physics. It doesn’t matter how many people “want” a future powered by renewables, it isn’t going to happen because renewables aren’t capable of providing such power.

HD Hoese
May 29, 2020 7:28 am

The question has come up here about the rigor of academic “Environmental Science.” This “sociology” research from programs in Environmental Science and Public and Environmental Affairs again makes one wonder if they do any science. Wonder what a Ph.D. in that had in their education and what sort of job they will have? Used to be critical before the Anthropocene.

Reply to  HD Hoese
May 29, 2020 8:45 am


“online survey … 51% self-identifying as liberals, 20% as moderate and 29% as conservative”
– per this article

“35% on average described themselves as conservative, 35% as moderate and 26% as liberal”
– per Gallup poll in 2018 at

John Tillman
Reply to  Ralph Westfall
May 29, 2020 12:37 pm

Only bubble-dwelling ivory tower academics could imagine that a poll with 51% liberal respondents could reflect reality.

Νεφελοκοκκυγία indeed!

May 29, 2020 7:37 am

Wind power is cheap.
Solar power is cheap.
Fossil fuels are expensive and polluting.
Which ones do you want?

What about nuclear?

Ok, now that we have all the information you need, pick which power sources you want.

Oh, you want the cheap solar and wind? Good choice.

Never mind the fact that neither are cheap, neither are reliable, and neither are clean.
Of course you get low information, 80% of the people, to pick what is propagandized to pick what you want them to.

In reality, if everyone was told the truth, almost everyone would pick nuclear power as it really is cheap, it really is clean, and it really is reliable. We have lots of options for nuclear power, but all of them are off the table because nuclear is capable and the people who argue against it do not want capable solutions, they simply want to get rid of what is capable.

May 29, 2020 8:21 am

Windmills and photovoltaic cells require immense amounts of fossil fuels for production, deployment, operations and maintenance. A broad political support for a fantasy speaks to mass delusion, not to practicality.

W. Browning
May 29, 2020 8:23 am

This can’t be correct. If it were a true conservative vision it would include a majority of “clean” power from NUCLEAR, not from bird killing wind, or inefficient, space wasting solar.

I run solar panels on my house to keep runaway electricity prices in CA from burying me, but they have another three or four years before payback. They keep us out of tier 2 & 3 price gouging, that’s why the payback is only six or seven years.

May 29, 2020 9:01 am

Of social, political, and scientific myths. Conservatives are not green, they want green, not Green, other than in a basket of solutions best fit to purpose.

May 29, 2020 9:04 am

The Green gauntlet, I presume.

May 29, 2020 9:18 am

What a stupid, loaded question. I hope to use the source of power that is the cheapest way to meet demand in each geographical area given the technology and resources available at that point in the future. Of course they would not accept that, they want you to make up some arbitrary, meaningless %. And since fossil fuels dominate our current mix, almost everyone will say a mix with less fossil fuels than we have now. That doesn’t mean there is consensus for a green energy future. This kind of propaganda disguised as research, paid for mostly by taxpayer funding of education, is disgusting.

Reply to  WR2
May 29, 2020 2:14 pm

Well, here in Houston in summertime you need to keep the car running or the onboard AC quits working.

Roger Welsh
May 29, 2020 9:20 am

As all life on this Earth is built around carbon, perhaps the useless media might start being constructive!
I would love to see a full definition of “green” by a “greenie”!

Also, how renewables could sustain our need for electricity!

Mark A Luhman
Reply to  Roger Welsh
May 29, 2020 9:56 am

Yea, people are so stupid a sugar company put carbon free on their packing, yet a sugar has carbon all that carbon comes from CO2. One cannot fix stupid.

Reply to  Roger Welsh
May 29, 2020 10:04 am

Carbon sequestration through “planning”. #wicked

Ewin Barnett
May 29, 2020 9:48 am

Brilliant Light Power is making substantial progress towards having a commercially viable device that generates substantial heat with zero emissions. When woke greens discover what such a device implies, will they be in favor of it or find reasons to oppose it?

See for example:

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Ewin Barnett
May 30, 2020 3:33 am

Don’t know. Well, who wouldn’t like Hydrinos (the dark matter of the universe) but OTOH, TANSTAAFL.

May 29, 2020 9:55 am

I’m sure many people would be in favor of clean energy, we’ve worked hard to clean our air, our water, and our cities in the US. If the question is, “Would you prefer to use clean energy sources”, I would expect the answer to be “yes”.

What was not done was any effort to tell participants that there are no clean alternatives that can do the job, as of now, and not likely in the near future. Ask everybody if they want a pet unicorn, the answer is probably “yes”, but coming up with that many unicorns, on the other hand.

Reply to  max
May 29, 2020 12:55 pm

A modern coal fired power station is far “cleaner’ over its lifetime than any wind turbine or solar panel could ever be, especially is you consider that relative to energy produced.
Wind and solar barely, if at all, break even and are highly polluting in their manufacture , and quite destructive of the environment in their placement and after their short lived existence.

May 29, 2020 10:00 am

I self-identify as liberal. Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.
I want the future to be Generation IV nuclear.
(1) The concept of CO2 being a pollutant is downright silly. If anything we need more of the stuff. It is the stuff of life.
(2) We may be either warming or cooling; probably not remaining the same. Gen4Nuke would be beneficial in either case.
(2a) If warming we could use the power to manufacture shade satellites. If there really is a greenhouse effect we could use it to sequester carbon.
(2b) If cooling we can power electric heat.
(3) Man cannot live on photoelectric and wind power alone. Gen4 fills the bill.

Reply to  Old.George
May 29, 2020 2:18 pm

Well, here in Houston in summertime you need to keep the car running or the onboard AC quits working.

Reply to  Old.George
May 29, 2020 2:18 pm

Well, here in Houston in summertime you need to keep the car running or the onboard AC quits working.

May 29, 2020 10:21 am

With a Carbon Capture Utilization System coal can be combusted and put into the atmosphere less CO2 than what a natural gas power plant emits. The Time of Clean Coal Is Now Here.
This CCU System starts out in agriculture absorbing CO2 out of the atmosphere putting the CO2 into the soil and returning to the atmosphere O2 which is something we all need to survive.
This CCU System turns the CO2 into good paying full time jobs and money!
Fossil fuel power plants deliver reliable electricity 24/7 and are not dependent on what time of the day it is or what the weather is like outside.
The footprint of a power plant is small compared to a renewable solar or wind farm.

There are some who want to spend Trillions of our tax dollars to put up a lot more intermittent “renewable” electricity producing projects. Green New Deal
Lets stick with the tried and true proven methods of producing America’s electricity and have these power plants operate with CCU and put Billions of dollars into America’s economy instead.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Sid Abma
May 29, 2020 11:25 am

How about No?

Reply to  Sid Abma
May 29, 2020 11:47 am

Still trolling for investors.

Reply to  Sid Abma
May 29, 2020 1:06 pm

Put the CO2 back into the atmosphere WHERE IT BELONGS. !

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Sid Abma
May 29, 2020 4:41 pm

Not buying it, Sid. Got any snake oil?

Bruce Cobb
May 29, 2020 10:46 am

Their “survey” is meaningless, and likely designed to elicit the responses they wanted. If they told them the truth about “green” energy, the responses would have been far, far different.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
May 29, 2020 11:27 am

I don’t care what you believe; what are you willing to work for?

– Saul Alinsky

The adaptation of this in terms of renewable energy would be:

I don’t care what you want; what are you willing to pay for?

Physical and engineering realities pay no attention to public opinion polls and can’t be changed by legislation.

To begin with, if you believe with Paul Ehrlich that “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun”, then we can’t debate about the means of energy production because we fundamentally disagree over its value. I believe anyone whose goal is to make energy expensive and scarce for everyone is completely ignorant of history and not thinking rationally. Debating such people on the merits and drawbacks of renewable energy is futile because they are living in an alternate value universe. Similarly, including them in public opinion polls on energy issues simply pollutes the data.

But assuming we share the goal of abundant, reliable and affordable energy for everyone, then we have to consider both the costs and benefits of all the available technologies.

Which brings us back to “I don’t care what you want; what are you willing to pay for?”

David Hoopman
May 29, 2020 11:29 am

It’s pretty much a given that these “researchers” would have to be spectacularly incompetent to not get the responses they were looking for.

May 29, 2020 11:43 am

Nukes, Baby, Nukes! A lot of them, and soon!

Mickey Reno
May 29, 2020 6:00 pm

Even Republicans love green energy? Really? If you’re a lefty, and that’s your story, I understand why you’re sticking to it.

I fully admit that most people who are not paying attention and therefore know nothing, might think that solar and wind energy are wonderful and free. I further admit that some of these ignorami (is that the proper plural for ignoramus?) might even believe that renewable energy creates net positive green jobs, as opposed to exacting an opportunity cost in which real and substantial and productive jobs are lost to inefficiency and thrash related to low density, intermittent energy.

That’s why it’s our responsibility to educate these people, to set them straight, to show them that wind mills and solar panels are more about virtue signaling and political correctness and herd mentality than they are about economic advance and sensible energy policy. And to be sure, I make no absolute claims, here. Some rooftop solar might make economic sense if it helps incrementally generate electricity at peak production times, when air conditioning is driving the peak when the sun is shining. But in places where peaks are reached in the late afternoon and early evening hours, solar isn’t going to really help that much. And if solar and wind can drive some pumped hydro production, that might help at micro scales, but pumped hydro would eat so much land, more than we have available, it is completely impractical to use as a large scale replacement of coal, gas and nuclear power. For now, lower emission natural gas makes perfect economic sense. Nuclear power will make the most sense in the far future, after we get over our silly 100% perfection based aversions.

Patrick MJD
May 29, 2020 11:16 pm

I, as well as many who have never had power, want cheap and reliable power. We can do this “cleanly” without solar and wind (Although solar and wind do have their place in the power supply mix). Nuclear. But I do prefer to cook on gas, hate electric hobs/stoves/cooktops.

I mean, how else are we to receive our minute by minute propaganda, sorry, I mean “News”?

Johann Wundersamer
June 1, 2020 2:37 am

However, in a nationwide online survey, we recently found that broad support exists across the political spectrum for a future powered mostly by renewable energy sources –>

However, [ ] broad [ support; lip service ] exists across the political spectrum for a future powered mostly by renewable energy sources

when said “political spectrum” disappears for 2 weeks into the home constituency to push their ever personal reelection.

Johann Wundersamer
June 1, 2020 3:07 am

The same old fallacy:

Assessing perceptions

to explore people’s views on energy sources, [we] they conducted an online survey of 2,429 adults across the U.S.

broadcasted in the limelights of on-looking camera teams.

Rather than intercepting families in the parking lots in front of shopping malls for their consumer habits …

Johann Wundersamer
June 1, 2020 3:25 am

The same old fallacy:

Assessing perceptions

to explore people’s views on energy sources, [we] they conducted an online survey of 2,429 adults across the U.S.

broadcasted in the limelights of on-looking camera teams.

Rather than intercepting families’ shopping trolleys

in the parking lots in front of shopping malls for their consumer habits …

Johann Wundersamer
June 1, 2020 3:55 am

No “break of civil rights” –

– with entering shopping malls everyone accepts surveillance cameras outside businesses due to personal security reasons + freedom of trade.

After all – it’s the 20ᵗʰ millennium.

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