Category Archives: Environment

Friday’s trending topics

Pollution — We’re feeling better about the condition of our air and water. Americans currently express record-low concern about both air pollution and pollution of drinking water. Thirty-six percent say they worry a great deal about air pollution and 48% about pollution of drinking water. Both figures are down more than 20 percentage points from the year 2000.

Online —  By their own admission, many young Americans, aged 18 to 29, say they spend too much time using the Internet (59%), their cell phones or smartphones (58%), and social media sites such as Facebook (48%). 

GunsMost Americans support the right to use deadly force to protect themselves – even in public places – and have a favorable view of the National Rifle Association.

John Robinson

Fracking: A rose by any other name

North Carolinians don’t know enough about fracking to have an opinion? Perhaps it is the term itself. That’s what a poll done by the LSU Public Policy Research Lab shows.

“Public aversion to the term likely results from the harsh consonants and perhaps the obvious similarity to a certain other four letter word,” said Michael Climek. “And this research shows that the unpleasant sound of the word is at least partially responsible for residents thinking ‘fracking’ is unsafe and that it should not be pursued by the state of Louisiana. If businesses and legislators use another word or description, constituents may be more willing to support hydraulic fracturing.”

Spreading the word on fracking

Last week, we published poll results that indicated that most North Carolinians don’t know enough about fracking to have an opinion on its worth. Here are two pieces of news just out that may inform them.

From The Atlantic: A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an “unprecedented” and “almost certainly manmade” increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That’s six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century.

Some environmentalists are blaming fracking. But the Atlantic article notes: The USGS scientists aren’t willing to draw the causal connection between fracking and earthquakes. “While the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly manmade, it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production,” they conclude.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reports that Matt Damon is going to star in an anti-fracking movie called “The Promised Land.” Shooting is scheduled to start later this month.

The next step in North Carolina is expected next month when the General Assembly convenes for its short session. 

— John Robinson

Look to solar and wind power in the future

North Carolinians, along with the rest of the nation, are annoyed by the rise in gas prices.  So, it’s hardly surprising that when they are asked about what potential energy sources the nation should rely upon in the future, solar power (85%) and wind power (80%) lead the way.

And, equally, it’s not surprising that the two nonrenewable energy sources got the lowest marks: oil, 25%, and coal, 30%. 

(Two years ago, in an Elon University Poll, three-quarters of North Carolina residents said they would support the increase of federal funds for research on wind, solar and hydrogen technology.)

One group might be cheered by that sentiment. From the Charlotte Observer last month:

North Carolina’s offshore winds, in theory, hold enough energy potential to power the whole state. In reality, no commercial turbines have gone up anywhere in Atlantic coastal waters.

Turning potential into electricity brought 300 industry members, government officials and green-energy advocates to Charlotte on Thursday for the first Southeastern Coastal Wind Conference.

The long, shallow-water N.C. coast has more wind-energy potential within 50 miles of the coastline than any other East Coast state, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated in 2010.

It is worth noting that as the state debates fracking, 70% of respondents said the state should rely on natural gas more as a future energy source.

— John Robinson