Peak Oil, Public Health and Climate Change

The American Journal of Public Health just published an article about how Americans respond to framing ‘peak oil’ as a public health problem. YPCCC Director Anthony Leiserowitz and collaborators Matt Nisbet (American University) and Ed Maibach (George Mason University) recently conducted a national survey that explored public perceptions of the risks associated with peak petroleum. Forty-four percent of Americans said sharp increases in oil prices would be “very harmful” to health. Interestingly, those respondents who self-identified as very conservative and those who were Dismissive of climate change were the respondents most likely to perceive harmful health consequences.

As Matt Nisbet points out in his blog post, the findings suggest that “a broad cross section of Americans may be ready to engage in dialogue about ways to manage the risks associated with peak petroleum.” Peak oil and climate change both require national action to reduce the risks. This study suggests that the public health frame shows promise as a way to engage a broad set of Americans in solutions to both problems.