What will it really take to get the public to make tradeoffs on energy? It’s a fundamental question, because energy policy is all about the tradeoffs. No form of energy is perfect. Everything comes with pros and cons. The key to moving forward is figuring out what people will accept: how much will they pay, what risks are they willing to accept, and what alternatives we should pursue.
The public lacks some basic knowledge about energy. A Public Agenda survey in 2009 found nearly 4 in 10 Americans (39 percent) couldn’t name a fossil fuel. Nearly half couldn’t name a renewable energy source. More than half of the public (56 percent) says incorrectly that nuclear energy contributes to global warming. About one-third of the public (31 percent) thought solar energy contributes to global warming.