Agricultural Economics Department
Date of this Version
Nebraska Rural Poll, Research Report (September 2015) 15-3, 42 pages
Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Also available at https://ruralpoll.unl.edu/pdf/15climateandenergy.pdf
Many rural Nebraskans are concerned about more severe droughts or longer dry periods in their area, insect-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, and more extreme summer temperatures in their area. Fewer rural Nebraskans are concerned about the availability of water for their community or home or more frequent extreme rains or floods. Residents of the North Central region are more likely than residents of other regions of the state to be concerned about more severe droughts or longer dry periods in their area.
Few rural Nebraskans reported their household experiencing health problems during the drought of 2012. However, many persons with occupations in agriculture experienced increased anxiety or stress during the latest drought.
Similarly, many rural Nebraskans do not believe climate change is harming their health or members of their family’s health now. However, opinions are mixed on whether or not that will happen within the next 25 years.
Most rural Nebraskans believe the state should develop a plan for adapting to climate change in order to reduce its impact on agriculture, rural communities, forestry and natural resources. And, most rural Nebraskans agree that the University of Nebraska should be helping agricultural producers, rural communities and others to adapt to climate change. Younger persons are more likely than older persons to agree that Nebraska should develop a plan for adapting to climate change in order to reduce its impact on agriculture, rural communities, forestry and natural resources.
Most rural Nebraskans received information relating to climate change from mainstream news sources (the newspaper, television, or the radio) over the past year. Many also received information from an article or story they found on the Internet.
When asked how much they trust various sources of information about climate change and its potential impacts, though, most rural Nebraskans trust expert sources such as University of Nebraska experts, scientists in general, and doctors and other public health experts. Many rural Nebraskans also trust television weather reporters, state agencies, environmental organizations and federal agencies. Most rural Nebraskans distrust social media and online blogs and podcasts as sources of information about climate change. And many rural Nebraskans distrust the mainstream news media as well as radio talk show hosts.
When asked about energy sources for the state, most rural Nebraskans agree that more should be done to develop solar or wind energy as well as ethanol or biodiesel energy in Nebraska. Furthermore, when asked about future investments for various sources of electrical energy, most rural Nebraskans believe Nebraska should invest more in wind and solar energy over the next several years. Most rural Nebraskans believe the level of investment in coal should be the same over the next several years. And, many rural Nebraskans believe the level of investment in nuclear energy should also remain the same.
Given the support for various renewable energy sources, it is not surprising that most rural Nebraskans have undertaken various energy conservation projects on their current home, including: purchased fluorescent or LED light bulbs; purchased more energy-efficient appliances; sealed air leaks around windows and/or doors; upgraded insulation, windows or doors in the home; and purchased a more energy-efficient air conditioner, water heater or furnace. In addition, many rural Nebraskans have installed motion sensor light switches or programmable thermostat as well as purchased a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
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