A recent US-wide survey conducted by the University of Texas (Austin) reveals worrying results about the Americans’ knowledge of the energy industry. When asked which country they believed to be the largest supplier of foreign oil to the US, 58% of respondents chose Saudi Arabia and 15% – Iraq, with only 13% selecting the correct answer – Canada. While 82% of those polled endorsed the development of natural gas resources, only 38% of those who had even heard about fracking supported it. This is particularly worrisome in the context of the current natural gas boom and the drive for energy independence in the United States.
Responses to these and other questions regarding energy issues and climate change varied based on political affiliation, gender, and income. Perhaps what struck me the most was respondents with incomes less than $50,000 per year showed higher engagement in energy issues at all scales – local, national, and global – than those with higher incomes. Take a look at the numbers yourself – some of them may surprise you.
These findings point to an ongoing disconnect between the energy industry and the public, either due to a lack of education or a lack of interest. Given the battles that are currently being fought in the energy arena and those yet to come, an effort has to be made by government, industry, media, and academia to bridge this gap and make energy issues ‘relevant’ in the everyday lives of Americans.
Cover photo courtesy of Glenn Euloth, Flickr Creative Commons