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As NYC Rations Gas, A Study On How Americans View the Risks of Gas Price Volatility And Scarcity

As New York City struggles to recover from Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg today announced that the city would start rationing gas, as long lines and scarce supplies continue to plague the area, reports the City Room blog at the New York Times.

What’s happening in New York — once a reality to only those who had lived through the OPEC embargo days of the 1970s — is now not only a possibility given the unpredictability of extreme weather events like Sandy but given the likelihood of conflict with Iran over the next year and beyond.

In a 2011 study at the American Journal of Public Health with Ed Maibach and Tony Leiserowitz, we took a look at how the public viewed the risks of a sharp spike in oil prices and related shortages.  What we found might surprise you.  The study not only underscores the need to prepare and engage on these risks, but also suggests an opening to cross partisan differences when it comes to building resilience.

Here’s how a post over at the Climate Shift Project opens describing the study and you can check out the rest of the summary over there and access the full PDF.

A strong majority of Americans say it is likely that oil prices will triple in the coming five years and that such a tripling would be harmful both to the economy and to public health. Conservatives and those dismissive of climate change are among the most concerned by the threat of a major spike in oil prices, suggesting that a broad cross section of Americans may be ready to engage in dialogue about ways to manage the risks associated with peak petroleum.

Those are among the key findings of a forthcoming study published online this week at the American Journal of Public Health. I co-authored the study with Edward Maibach of George Mason University and Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University.

In this post I summarize the study, provide supplementary graphs, and discuss several implications.  You can read a PDF of the study at the Climate Shift Project web site and download the supplementary graphs.


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