Here at Kelley Blue Book we have our fingers on the pulse of vehicle buyers, because understanding what you need and want to know is critical to our mission of helping you make good vehicle purchase decisions. And these days it doesn't take a rocket scientist (or an anthropological climatologist) to determine that a large percentage of you want answers to the vexing questions that surround us concerning important issues like global climate change, the depletion of fossil fuels and the search for alternative energy sources. But we haven't just used our intuition to determine that many of you have big questions about the future of the environment and the next car you choose; instead we have empirical proof. As part of our constant efforts to deliver the information you need, we routinely survey the car-buying public to see what is on their collective mind. Looking at the results, it is obvious that you feel you need to know more about the above-mentioned issues and the new technologies that attempt to address them. And it is obvious that there are very real divisions on the questions of the severity of the current situation and what we should do in response. All of which doesn't just affect what vehicle you buy -- our area of special expertise -- but also how you live your life day-to-day.

Despite what some say, there is a great deal of debate among the experts and advocates on the crucial questions of global climate change, fuels and the environment. Some feel very strongly that the Earth is in imminent danger and that only decisive, immediate action can help turn the course away from the abyss. Certainly former Vice President Al Gore, through his Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," is a staunch advocate of this position. At the same time, other voices, like meteorologist and Weather Channel founder John Coleman, state that there is no crisis at all or that the issue is colossally overblown.

What does the American public feel? To get those answers is one of the many reasons we recently ran a study of consumers' attitudes regarding these timely topics. We discovered that, just as there is a divide among the experts and advocates, there is a sharp divide among the citizenry. When asked which of four statements most accurately described their position on these issues, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) said, "I believe the environment is in immediate danger, and I have taken serious steps to avert the crisis." That, of course, represents a very significant number of Americans -- in fact something on the order of 69 million people. There is another group, nearly as large (17 percent), that has a diametrically opposed view. They most agree with the statement "I do not believe our environment is threatened, and I am concerned with the economic costs to 'fix' the problem." Another eight percent say, "I do not know whether we are in an environmental crisis or not."

Obviously, this indicates that the public is strongly divided. But if you are quick at math you've already noted that the majority of the public is unaccounted for in the totals above. What does that 52 percent have to say on all this? Well, the majority opinion is "I believe there are moderate threats to the environment, but they can be solved without a significant change in my lifestyle."

To us at Kelley Blue Book, these results have very serious implications. If the 23 percent who feel the planet is in imminent danger are correct, they clearly have to persuade a significant portion of the other 77 percent that the crisis is real; it is right now; and it will take personal sacrifice to solve. If, on the other hand the 17 percent who not only do not feel the environment is threatened but also fear the huge changes in lifestyle and the trillions it might cost to reverse the growth of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are correct, they must persuade millions more of the truth of their position. Finally, if those in the middle are correct, they have to fear the extreme positions on either side while they try to maintain their lifestyle largely as it is today without spending time or money on programs and efforts that are useless or, worse, damaging. Certainly, there can be no greater goal than determining the truth amid all the rhetoric and setting both a public policy and a personal course that answers the needs and hopes of people to have a better life while protecting the sanctity of the planet on which we live.

Because of the sheer importance of this topic -- the very life and death of our planet -- we think you deserve to hear the truth and so it is our goal to deliver that to you. When it is impossible to state flatly that "this is the truth," as is the case in so many of these issues, we feel it is our duty to inform you of both sides of the questions, so you can make educated judgments on your own.

With this as a background we have created a "Green" site that is unlike any other. Rather than stifling debate, we hope to stimulate it. Rather than fostering one point of view at the expense of others, we hope to create dialogue. We think the combined wisdom of the experts whose opinions we enlist and the millions of visitors to our site will advance the cause of truth on these critical issues.

Has mankind caused global warming? Does global warming currently exist? Are hybrid vehicles the answer to our reliance on fossil fuels? Are hybrids over-hyped and under-effective? Should my next car be gasoline-, electric-, hydrogen- or diesel-powered? Are there sources of automotive energy lying right under our noses that are under-utilized? Is an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere an imminent threat to our safety and health? Are carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere meaningless? If I'm looking for overall economy is my best bet a diesel, hybrid or a gasoline powered car? Should I consider a natural-gas car? Or hold out for a fuel cell vehicle?

These are among the myriad questions we will address here at KBB Green. We frankly admit we don't have all the answers, but we are also confident that the information we deliver combined with the feedback you and your fellow citizens contribute can help all of us get closer to those answers than ever before. We expect it to be an exciting and illuminating journey, and we welcome you to participate in the ride.

- Jack R. Nerad, Executive Editorial Director, Kelley Blue Book

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