Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Peak oil and public health: Political common ground?

Date:
August 8, 2011
Source:
American University
Summary:
In a new article, a communication professor demonstrates that the impact of peak petroleum on public health may be a way to unite conservatives and liberals in an effort to move away from fossil fuels and towards alternative forms of energy.

Peak petroleum -- the point at which the maximum rate of global oil extraction is reached, after which the rate of production begins to decline -- is a hot topic in scientific and energy circles. When will it occur? What will the impact be? While geologists and economists debate the specifics, American University School of Communication professor Matthew Nisbet believes peak petroleum and the associated risks to public health may provide an opportunity to bring conservatives and liberals together in the move toward alternative forms of energy.

"Somewhat surprisingly, conservatives are more likely to associate a major spike in oil prices with a strong threat to public health," said Nisbet -- an expert in the field of climate and energy communication. "This could present a gateway to engagement with conservatives on energy policy."

In a forthcoming peer-reviewed study at the American Journal of Public Health, Nisbet and his co-authors find that 76% of people in a recent survey believe oil prices are either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to triple in the next five years. A dramatic spike in oil prices is a commonly recognized outcome of peak petroleum.

Even more telling is that 69% of respondents believe a sharp rise in oil prices would be either "very harmful" (44%) or "somewhat harmful" (25%) to the health of Americans. According to the survey, strong conservatives were the most sensitive to these possible risks, with 53% believing that a spike in oil prices would be "very harmful" to human health. Similarly, in a separate analysis of the data, those who were strongly "dismissive" of climate change (52%) were the most likely of any subgroup to associate a sharp spike in oil prices with a negative impact on public health.

According to Nisbet and his co-authors, this creates a challenge and an opportunity for the environmental and public health communities. Peak oil and energy prices are often talked about in terms of economic and environmental impact, but rarely as a public health concern. Nisbet argues that his findings show reason to reframe the debate.

"These findings suggest that a broad cross-section of Americans may be ready to engage in dialogue about ways to manage the health risks that experts associate with peak petroleum," said Nisbet. "Peak petroleum may not currently be a part of the public health portfolio, but we need to start the planning process."

The study was co-authored with Edward Maibach of George Mason University and Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 11th Hour, and Surdna Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American University. The original article was written by Wes Hickman. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. C. Nisbet, E. Maibach, A. Leiserowitz. Framing Peak Petroleum as a Public Health Problem: Audience Research and Participatory Engagement in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 2011; DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300230

Cite This Page:

American University. "Peak oil and public health: Political common ground?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808170049.htm>.
American University. (2011, August 8). Peak oil and public health: Political common ground?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808170049.htm
American University. "Peak oil and public health: Political common ground?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808170049.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Iceland has lowered its aviation alert on its largest volcano after a fresh eruption on a nearby lava field prompted authorities to enforce a flight ban for several hours. Duration: 01:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) A lightning strike injured three people on a New York City beach on Sunday. The storms also delayed flights and interrupted play at the US Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) A study of almost 20 years' worth of satellite images shows Antarctic sea levels are on the rise as ice shelves continue to melt. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins