Negative perceptions explain why green living is tough sell

Let me echo Elliott Laws: “It’s not that easy being green” (K Street Insiders column, April 23).

In fact, it is much more difficult than Mr. Laws states in that the American electorate is deeply confused on many of the basic terms and concepts used by legislators and the media, and conflicted on the benefits to them as voters for a different course of action.

On one hand, you have a growing majority of Americans who are indicating in polls that climate change and environmental protection are important issues that require action. On the other hand, few Americans are actively purchasing renewable energy, changing light bulbs, or doing other activities associated with being green. We call this the green gap.

Our EcoPinion surveys of 1,000 Americans across the nation show that the jargon used in political discourse is part of the problem. Consider these facts:

• Most consumers can’t articulate the difference between the phrases “energy conservation” and “energy efficiency,” while only 13 percent of respondents think energy efficiency has to do with saving money or cutting down on fuel costs.

• Only about one-third, 30 percent, of Americans understand the term “smart energy,” and about the same number, 32 percent, say they are not doing enough in terms of “smart energy.”

• One-third of respondents do not know what “clean energy” signifies.

Moreover, even when Americans do understand the terminology, the value proposition is at best unclear. When asked to compare attributes of green technology, consumers leaned toward the more negative value attribute for every comparison. Consumers perceive green technology to be ugly, expensive and difficult to understand and maintain.

This finding is not so surprising when considering that most of the political debate around climate change focuses on costs, conservation (in other words, sacrifice), and complexity — for example, cap and trade.

Americans expect Congress to take a leadership role to deal with climate change, sooner rather than later. But legislators need to equally focus on public education around their efforts and the value proposition for ordinary Americans to taking such action.

Washington

Not buying detriment

From Tony Baczynski

(Regarding article “Supreme Court upholds voter ID law,” April 28.) The article states: “Those most likely to be affected include important Democratic constituencies: minority, student and poor voters.”

Please explain why this affects them. Does it mean that they can’t vote two to three times per election as usual? Show me a college student who doesn’t have an ID. So the others can get up and vote, but they can’t get a state ID? If they’re that stupid, we don’t need them to vote anyway.

Las Vegas