public opinion

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New posters in downtown Ann Arbor businesses will ask visitors to stop giving money to panhandlers.  The effort by the mayor's office and businesses asks people to give money to local resources for the homeless instead. 

Yesterday, we posted this question to the Michigan Radio Facebook community:

“What is your policy on giving to panhandlers?”

Readers jumped at the chance to share their stories and “personal policies.”

Charles–I used to run the old laundry mat on Broadway & Maiden Lane in Ann Arbor & used to have to deal with panhandlers, daily! After awhile you can figure out who really needs some help and those who were just mooching a free ride. $5 was the limit I would give to those who were not just gonna drink it away, but, you never know, do you!

Angie- We were dining in A2 a couple of years ago, and my daughter was being nice and felt sorry for a beggar. When we left the restaurant, she offered him some take-out in a container and he got all annoyed at her and said "I dont want that" >:(

Tom- If someone asks me politely, I'll give them whatever change I have in my pocket-- sometimes it's more than a dollar; sometimes it's 10 cents. But I won't open my wallet in front of a panhandler. My policy prevents me from having to make a decision each time I'm asked. I've never had anyone be anything but grateful.

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The number of Americans who believe in global warming is once again on the rise, moving from 58 percent in 2010 to 62 percent last year.

That's according to survey results released last month by U of M's Ford School of Public Policy. The survey, conducted in conjunction with the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion and published by the Brookings Institute, shows that a higher percentage of Americans accepted the science of climate change in 2011 than anytime since the fall of 2009.

Residents in Manistee and Benzie counties are receiving surveys in the mail this week. The survey will ask questions about wind energy.

Christie Manning is a visiting professor at Macalester College in Minnesota. She’s supervising the survey.

“To understand what it is about wind energy development that creates a sense of pro or anti in individuals; what are the various factors that tip a person to feel one way or the other?”

Township officials will use the survey results to help them with future zoning decisions.

There’s also an online version of the survey that’s available to anyone who lives in Michigan.

Photo courtesy of Joel Garlich-Miller, USFWS

For the past decade, researchers have been studying what Americans believe about climate change.

For several years, more and more of the public has agreed that climate change is taking place. But recently, the number of people who believe climate change is happening is falling.

I talked with Barry Rabe, a professor in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

He’s the author of a new report that draws on the latest public opinion surveys.

Here's what he had to say about the report, which found fewer people believe the Earth is warming:

"We found in the United States as well as in Michigan that there appears to be an upward trajectory of this in the past decade. Do you think global temperatures are warming, independent of the question of human causation, and other questions about perceptions of global warming consistently increasing, probably peaking in late 2008.

Since that time in the United States, we’ve seen a drop of about 18-20 percentage points on some of the very basic, standard survey questions that have been used for some time in the U.S. and really around the world.

In our latest survey which comes from November 2010, we actually see a little bit of bouncing back up again, not back to those November 2008 levels but for our purposes what this suggests is public understanding and perception of climate change is really a pretty volatile area of public opinion.

The numbers move around quite a bit from year to year, much more than we would have ever anticipated."

He thinks one main reason why belief in global warming has dropped over the past couple years is because a lot of people are affected by the weather in their own backyards.