Global warming and climate change has ascended to prominence in normative, political, and scientific domains in recent years. This salient and contested concept implicates citizens and officials across the globe – the ramifications of which pose immediate and future threats to mankind, natural resources, biodiversity, and environmental stability. Proponents of this theory support laws, regulations, emissions policies, and international protocols that seek to control the phenomenon and mitigate its effects. As of late, an emergent priority to reduce carbon emissions from human origins (automobiles are a common symbol) has been advocated; scientists primarily attribute the shift in climate to anthropogenic sources. However, there are distinct variations in support for such measures, particularly when those policies would impact the economy on both microeconomic and macroeconomic levels. Due to an unavoidable increase in short-term costs, accounting for individual enthusiasm is problematic. It would behoove political actors to track opinion patterns, and adjust potential policies accordingly.
At present, there is no verifiable assessment of the costs and benefits in pursuing alternative forms of energy relative to the values of a typical citizen. This research paper will aim to reveal the favorability of individuals toward new forms of energy and attendant costs.
Before approaching the issue at hand, it is important to first outline the basis of opinion formation. Breed and Ktsanes (1961) detail a process known as “personal sampling” – informal, person-to-person interactions that essentially inform an individual of how other members of their peer group will react toward the issue. Large majorities with relatively few dissenters support the general principles consistent with their group identity (Huckfeldt 2007). However, people are usually aware that other opinions vary from their own, but when this difference occurs, “it is almost always in the direction of assessing public opinion as more conservative” (Breed and Ktsanes 1961).
Political communication is a key instrument for relaying issue opinion among citizens. It is a “highly efficient means whereby individuals become politically informed,” and forms and manipulates many political preferences (Huckfeldt 2007). Opinion diversity impacts political communication: Findings have demonstrated that a high occurrence of crystallization of opinion coincides with a less substantial presence of “pluralistic ignorance,” which basically says traditional beliefs can be modified (Breed and Ktsanes 1961). Huckfeldt (2007) states that political communication networks – useful for acquiring information – do not fundamentally protect individuals from controversies that “buffet the larger political environment.”
Given the capricious nature of opinion formation, it is evident that global climate change raises many questions, and inherent within the issue itself is a consideration...