Poll: 64% of Californians link drought to global warming

MIAMI - JULY 11:  Exhaust flows out of the tailpipe of a vehicle at , "Mufflers 4 Less", July 11, 2007 in Miami, Florida. Florida Governor Charlie Crist plans on adopting California's tough car-pollution standards for reducing greenhouse gases under executive orders he plans to sign Friday in Miami.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A strong majority of Californians say they support tougher limits on greenhouse gas emissions and more ambitious renewable energy goals to combat climate change, according to a statewide poll released late Wednesday.

Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said global warming is contributing to California’s ongoing drought. About half said global warming is a “very serious” threat to the state’s future, according to the poll, conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, a San Francisco-based nonpartisan research center.

“At a time when many Californians are making a connection between the current drought and climate change, there is strong support for expanding the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mark Baldassare, the institute’s president, in a news release.

Results of the survey — titled Californians & the environment — are based on phone interviews with 1,702 California adult residents from in July.

Of those who took part, 44 percent said they were registered Democrats; 28 percent were Republicans; and 24 percent independents or decline-to-state voters, according to the institute.

Sixty-four percent of respondents said they believe there’s a connection between the drought and global warming, while 28 percent said they saw no link.

Spray irrigation on a field in the Imperial Valley in southern California. This type of irrigation is a lot better than the extremely water inefficient type of flood irrigation that is popular in this region. Still, in the high temperatures of this desert region a lot of the water evaporates, leaving the salts, that are dissolved in the colorado River water that is used, on the soil.

Spray irrigation on a field in the Imperial Valley in southern California. This type of irrigation is more efficient than flood irrigation that is popular in this region. Still, in the high temperatures of this desert region a lot of the water evaporates, leaving the salts, that are dissolved in the Colorado River water that is used, on the soil.

The institute has not asked that question in the past, said PPIC spokeswoman Linda Strean.

California is mired in its fourth straight year of severe drought. While not going so far as to say climate change has caused the drought, recent scientific studies have said global warming exacerbates the extreme high pressure systems that block rainfall in the Western United States.

PPIC’s past surveys have found strong support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including majorities across party lines a decade ago who favored California’s landmark emissions reduction law, AB32. That law requires the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

It was signed into law in 2006 by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“A strong partisan divide has opened up since then,” the institute observed in its release.

Now, 79 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of independents favor the law compared with 46 percent of Republicans, the institute said.

The poll also found that large majorities of Californians favor new, more aggressive goals for combating climate change.

Eighty-two percent of those polled said they support a proposal to require half of California’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. And 73 percent favor cutting petroleum use in vehicles by 50 percent.

Those are key pieces of Senate Bill 350, a bill introduced earlier this year by Senate leader Kevin de Léon.

Other findings from the PPIC survey include:

  • 88 percent of adults favor building more solar power stations in California.
  • 78 percent want to boost tax credits and other incentives for rooftop solar panels.
  • 49 percent favor building the Keystone XL pipeline, while 38 percent are opposed.
  • 56 percent oppose increased use of fracking to extract oil and natural gas. It’s the highest level of opposition since PPIC started asking about it in 2013.
  • 53 percent approve of Gov. Jerry Brown’s job performance, while 47 percent approve of the way he handles environmental issues.
  • 39 percent approve of the California Legislature’s job performance.
  • 57 percent approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance.
  • 29 percent approve of Congress’ performance.

Contact reporter Chris Nichols at [email protected] or on Twitter @ChrisTheJourno



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