Pollster Opposites: Greens Try to Cope With ClimateGate

Poll after poll have recently affirmed that the ClimateGate revelations (I actually say "affirmations") dealt a mortal blow to the public's belief in the environmentalist brass ring of "catastrophic Man-made global warming." The dishonesty exposed therein iced the cake for a public attentive to the increasingly shrill and absurd alarmist campaign, demonstrably cooler temperatures cool and the sky remaining precisely where we left it.

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Troubled by such results, several green groups to rush out polls of their own, riddled with gauzy questions generally distilling to "wouldn't you want to save the planet from destruction if you could get rich doing so?" I oversimplify, but not grossly. This week the National Wildlife Federation claimed two-thirds of Americans want federal limits on greenhouse gases! Surely a Congress desperate to do something popular will hop on board this train? Not likely.

The shocker from these forays is that a substantial number have so little regard for the alarmist claptrap that they're willing to dismiss even loaded questions designed to elicit a positive response.



You may recall a Washington Post poll conducted a few years ago, even before the cooling trend became pronounced, and severe winters of the sort that green activists assured us were now a thing of the past serially returned. That poll prompted a WaPo headline trumpeting that the public wanted to address climate change "at whatever the cost".

This is the sort of tool employed for years to support the talking point that it was that mean George W. Bush that stood between the United States, nay, the world, in agreeing to climate harmony in the form of a treaty and domestic cap-and-trade language (Copenhagen just now put the lie to that, for any who actually believed the argument).

Of course, the Post pollsters didn't actually pressure test that result, laden with cheap virtue as are all such ventures where the only cost is a reply. All they dared learn was that "at any cost" meant to the majority something less than a dollar more per gallon. If only cap-and-trade would merely inflict that harm, why, the greens might be onto something. But our president has admitted the axiom that cap-and-trade is designed to cause energy prices to "necessarily skyrocket", "bankrupt[ing]" industries.

So despite the flurry of greenie claims that the public is, too, with them, another poll came out this week commissioned by the National Federation of Independent Business. Its results track far better with the only poll that matters, more on which in a moment.

NFIB found that two-thirds of small business owners and managers -- the people whose sentiments drive three-fourths of new-job creation -- oppose a cap-and-trade scheme. 52 percent of voters oppose it, making it about as popular as Obama's health care takeover. 54 percent of small business owners and managers, and 42 percent of voters, believe that such a system would result in job loss.

The reason the results were different is that NFIB's pollsters added context to what they were asking, if possibly more soberly than is warranted but, hey, they erred on that side for credibility giving them a leg up on the greens. So respondents were at least challenged to consider that the policies are not free-ice cream -- even if still just in answering a poll question, which hurts slightly less than actually paying the additional amounts or losing your job. Polls claiming to show public support for cap-and-trade seem to prefer a don't ask, don't tell approach.

Elected lawmakers, who appear to jealously guard only one job -- their own -- are unlikely to try and ram through cap-and-trade next year as the greens' polls indicate would be the popular thing to do. In fact, numerous self-styled "centrist" Democrat senators and even the occasional liberal like Sen. Jay Rockefeller have indicated that, no, this appears to be a good issue to think about for 2011. That's an odd-numbered year, you see, with no elections, and the public, as reflected in the NFIB poll, want nothing to do with this scheme and want their lawmakers to have even less to do with it.

So let the greens wave about polls whose questions smack more than a little like scripts from late-night real estate get-rich-quick infomercials. Senators know that this stove is hot, and they aren't about to lay their own hands on it. That's not to say there won't be feints and even a few death throes this Congress to try and convince a dispirited left-wing base that they should be excited about voting in 2010.

But cap-and-trade is a dead parrot. In a way, that's a shame. Actually trying to pass it would allow for salting the political earth from which the sneaky, cynical idea sprang. But that, too, shall come.

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