Thursday, February 17, 2005

Major Issues of the Day

Public Agenda Alert -- Feb. 17, 2005
* Kyoto Climate Treaty Goes Into Effect
* Behind the Headlines: Negroponte Named Intelligence Director
* Kyoto Climate Treaty Goes Into Effect

The Kyoto Treaty on global warming went into effect this
week, seven years after it was first completed. Most
industrial nations have adopted the treaty's restrictions
on greenhouse gases, but not the United States, which
argues the treaty will cost too much and fails to
control emissions in emerging nations like China.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has
said persuading the U.S. to act on global warming is
his main goal as chair of the G-8 conference this year.

Surveys find nearly three-quarters of Americans say
they believe in the theory of global warming and
nearly six in 10 Americans say climate change is
having a serious impact now, but it is low on their
list of environmental concerns.

Overall, Americans give mixed signals in surveys on
just how important protecting the environment is to them.
Majorities say the environment should be an important
priority, but it is well behind concerns like terrorism,
the economy and Social Security. Seven in 10 also say
they feel good about the environment where they live and work.

When surveys ask people to choose between the environment
and the economy, answers change depending on how well
the economy is doing. Many resist the choice even
during prosperous times. When the economy was doing well
in 2000, two-thirds of Americans said they favored
protecting the environment even at the expense of
economic growth. But during the sluggish times of 1992
and 2003, less than half of Americans favored giving
priority to the environment. Even during the boom of
the 1990s, however, most Americans said it's not necessary
to choose between protecting the environment and economic growth.

There's a similar pattern with survey questions on
energy consumption versus conservation. There is evidence
that the public does not see this as an either/or choice.
Survey questions asking Americans to choose between more
energy production and more conservation tend to show a
slight preference for conservation. But questions that
specifically offer Americans the choice of a combined
approach show a healthy majority saying the country
should stress both equally.

Find out more in our Red Flags on The Environment:

* Behind the Headlines: Negroponte Named Intelligence Director

President Bush announced today that he would name John Negroponte,
currently the ambassador to Iraq, as the new national
intelligence director. Creating the post was a recommendation
of the 9/11 commission, although the job won't have all the
powers the commission wanted. Surveys find Americans say the
situation in Iraq and terrorism should be the top legislative
priorities in 2005. But surveys also find the number who say the
U.S. is winning the war on terrorism (and those worried about being
a victim themselves) fluctuates over time. Fewer than one in four
say the government should be able to prevent all attacks, but
most are at least somewhat confident the government can protect
its citizens.

Read the full article with links to news articles and additional
data in our Behind the Headlines blog:

Other topics covered Behind the Headlines this week include
Social Security reform, aid to New York City schools and attempts
to form a coalition government in Iraq.

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