Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Public Opinion Supports SRM Research

The results of a comprehensive international survey on public attitudes toward SRM have been published, and they show a surprising degree of support for SRM as a potential climate strategy. The survey covered 3,105 individuals in the US, UK, and Canada. Major findings include:
  • 8% of respondents correctly defined "geoengineering."

  • 45% of respondents correctly defined "climate engineering."

  • 72% of respondents approved of SRM research.

These results shed some light on the familiar debate over using "geoengineering" versus "climate engineering" to describe large-scale climate interventions, by demonstrating that the latter term has more traction among the general public. However, the term "geoengineering" cannot simply be dismissed as a confusing, less appealing label, since it is now uniquitous in climate policy discussions. The debate will go on (and I will continue to use the terms interchangeably on this blog).

More significantly, responses indicate strong support for SRM research and development, while predictably less support for actual deployment. This is encouraging news, and flies in the face of claims of widespread public opposition made by ETC Group, EcoNexus, and others. Indeed, when such assertions are confronted with the sort of empirical evidence produced by this survey, opposition to SRM and climate engineering more broadly begins to look less like the voice of the people, and more like an atavistic, Luddite agenda pursued by a handful of media-savvy fringe groups.

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