Global warming last, economy first among public’s top priorities – Pew poll

“Such a low ranking is driven in part by indifference among Republicans: just 11% consider global warming a top priority, compared with 43% of Democrats and 25% of independents,” a summary of the Pew poll released Monday states.

Thirty-eight percent called dealing with global warming a top priority at the beginning of 2007, 35 percent did at the beginning of 2008, and the figure was 30 percent at the beginning of last year, according to Pew.

Opponents of capping greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, factories and other sources say it would harm the economy and raise consumer costs.

But supporters say cost-containment measures in Democratic bills keep cost increases minimal, and that capping emissions would spur scores of jobs in alternative energy.

The economy is a top priority for 83 percent of the 1,504 people polled earlier this month, followed by jobs at 81 percent and terrorism at 80 percent. Forty-nine percent said dealing with the nation’s energy problems is a top priority, while 44 percent listed protecting the environment in that category.

The percentage of people listing energy as a top priority has fallen sharply – it was 60 percent in the same poll a year ago and 59 percent at the beginning of 2008. Crude oil and gasoline prices hit record highs in the summer of 2008, when average prices at the pump climbed above $4 per gallon.