Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cooling Public Interest on Global Warming

There is a good QJE paper to be written on explaining public opinion dynamics. I envision a paper that looks a little bit like the Fox News paper . Recall that when Rupert Murdoch arrives on your TV, your probability of voting Republican rises. But, returning to public opinion dynamics -- I'm especially interested in the case when there is set of policy issues that we must prioritize. To keep this simple, consider the 2 dimensional case of "jobs" and "climate change". "jobs" represents a short run issue while "climate change" represents a long run issue. Under what circumstances will different people's rankings of which is the more important policy priority flip flop? Now, I realize that a tenured ivy league professor may have different rankings than an unemployed Detroit car maker --- but under what circumstances would the same person's rankings flip over time? What explanatory variables could cause such flipping? Possible candidates include; national recessions, cultural events (new Al Gore movie?), climate shocks.

The social interactions literature has made great strides in recent years. How much of policy priorities are determined by group discussions generating learning and peer pressure?

The LA Times tackles some of these issues here .

For those of you who need a laugh, check out these wacky greens . As a green myself, I don't think that all "greens" are wacky --- but these guys count.