Editorial

Editorial

Survey says: Half of Idahoans admit they are unwilling to make lifestyle adjustments to stop climate change.

Sounds like the Gem State is full of insensitive, selfish individuals who are more than willing to make those polar bears swim for their lives rather than give up their gas-guzzling habits.

But then, public polls can be funny things.

Our office receives many press releases that use polling data to support or refute political or social viewpoints that they hope will, in turn, inform or affect public opinion. Some are credible, such as the annual statewide survey conducted by Boise State University’s School of Public Service. Many are the “top 10 lists” so popular today that are compiled by companies that use the data as a means to an end to get you to their website…and click, click, click.

And then there’s the recent one commissioned by a solar installation company, Sandbar Solar, which polled 3,500 Americans – so, let’s say, 70 per state -- to gauge if they would be prepared to make significant lifestyle changes – such as eating less meat or driving their cars less -- if it helped to stop, slow or reverse global climate change.

The poll listed only 46 percent of Idahoans were willing to make these big lifestyle changes. Well, at least we beat Utah (only 41 percent).

So, what does that poll number mean? Well, for starters, you can guess what many residents in a strong red state think on the climate change issue. Answers to this poll are likely to be aggressively contrary as a matter of protest.

But let’s take a look at the driving question, for example. Why wouldn’t Idahoans drive their cars less? Could one reason be the state’s rural geography necessitates we use our vehicles more, and with that the lack of available and dependable public transportation alternatives that are readily provided in urban areas? Driving less is just not an option for many who have to commute long distances for employment, educational and healthcare needs.

The other point is about eating less meat. Asking Idahoans to eat less meat is like telling Washingtonians they should produce fewer aircraft. Idaho is the fourth largest agriculture producer in the nation, and what leads the cash receipts here is livestock. So, when you’re asking Gem State residents to impact their livelihood, or that of their friends or neighbors, and overall impact the economic health of their communities and the State of Idaho for nebulous environmental gains in fewer methane-belching cows? Yes, ask that question and you’ll likely be told to pound sand.

Of course, this poll is a marketing tool. At its close, it lists 66 percent of people have never researched how they could save on bills by using alternative sources of energy…which (surprise, surprise…) is a great lead-in to the solar products they sell.

Gotcha.

Public polling seems to be an easy way for many to determine where people lean on an issue. But take care. Many of these surveys are slapdash in their construction, question too few of the population (in this case, 3,500 out of 325.7 million Americans) to ensure adequate sampling, and reach wrong conclusions using logical fallacies.

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