March 7-13, 2007

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By Patricia Lynn Henley

North Bay views?

Is global warming a potential threat to our local economy and quality of life? According to a recent annual survey by the Bay Area Council, 42 percent of North Bay residents think it's "very serious" and 36 percent view it as "somewhat serious," with only 12 percent saying it's "not too serious," 4 percent calling it "not at all serious" and 5 percent replying "don't know." Similar results were found throughout the nine Bay Area counties, with 48 percent at "very serious" and 30 percent at "somewhat serious." That's based on interviews by the Field Research Corporation in both English and Spanish with 600 Bay Area residents--100 of them in the North Bay counties of Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma--between Jan. 8 and Jan. 14. (The survey is said to be accurate by plus or minus 4 percent.)

The Bay Area Council, which represents hundreds of major employers, also asked if the state should regulate greenhouse gas emissions "across the board" by making all companies cut back 25 percent, or use a "more flexible trading system" in which firms that can't cut back easily can pay other companies to reduce their emissions even more. The Council's poll found that 33 percent of all respondents (40 percent of those in the North Bay) favored the make-everybody-do-it approach while 49 percent (47 percent in the North Bay) thought the flexible trading system was best.

As is done each year, the survey also asked about the biggest problems facing the Bay Area. Traffic and transportation were listed as the main challenge by 41 percent of the North Bay residents and 33 percent of everyone surveyed. In 1995, only 16 percent thought traffic and transportation were the main difficulty, while 32 percent named crime as the primary concern.

Asked if they're better off financially than they were a year ago, 48 percent said yes in 1996. That dipped to 31 percent in 2001 and 27 percent in 2002, but rose to 42 percent this year. In 1996, 72 percent thought the Bay Area economy was in good shape, compared to 18 percent in 2002, 14 percent in 2003 and 53 percent this year.

Asked how well Gov. Schwarzenegger is doing his job, 60 percent of North Bay residents approved, 19 percent disapproved and 21 percent didn't know; of everyone surveyed, 54 percent approved, 30 percent disapproved and 16 percent didn't know.

Since this is a business-sponsored survey, we wonder how accurately it reflects local views. Do you think global warming is a serious threat to the North Bay? Do you favor regulating emissions by making every company cut 25 percent or letting them "trade" emission reduction requirements so the net is still 25 percent from all firms?

E-mail your opinions to [email protected] with "Global Warming" in the subject line.

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