Framing Peak Petroleum as a Human Health Issue: Audience Research and Participatory Engagement

Between December 2009 and January 2010, we conducted a nationally representative telephone survey of US adults (n = 1001; completion rate = 52.9%) to explore perceptions of risks associated with peak petroleum. We asked respondents to assess the likelihood that oil prices would triple over the next 5 years and then to estimate the economic and health consequences of that event. Nearly half (48%) indicated that oil prices were likely to triple, causing harm to human health; an additional 16% said dramatic price increases were unlikely but would harm health if they did occur. A large minority (44%) said sharp increases in oil prices would be “very harmful” to health. Respondents who self-identified as very conservative and those who were strongly dismissive of climate change were the respondents most likely to perceive very harmful health consequences.

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