Can The Republican Party Solve Its Science Denial Problem
Evolution and climate science denial are predominant on the political right; there is no equivalent on the left
Theres a widespread misconception about science denial that on issues like the safety vaccines and genetically modified foods , denial is found predominantly on the political left, mirroring the denial of evolution and climate science on the political right. This assumption has even been presented on The Daily Show, but its supported by precious little evidence. In fact, as Chris Mooney documented in great detail in 2014:
do not support the idea that vaccine denial is a special left-wing cause. As for GMOs, while resistance may be strongest on the far left, worries on this issue are quite prominent across the spectrum as well.
In neither case are these beliefs a mirror image, on the left, of climate change or evolution denial .
A Majority Of Republicans Say They Support Policies To Mitigate Climate Change
Percentage of Republicans in each congressional district who agree thatwe should regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant
A majority of Republicans in almost every congressional district support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, even when they dont believe those emissions are causing climate change.
That may seem like a paradox, but theres a long history of support among people of all partisan backgrounds for regulating pollution basic things like clean water and clean air, Professor Egan said. To the extent global warming is framed that way, it raises support for policy interventions more than the abstract concept of climate change.
Despite this majority support, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has worked to repeal Obama-era policies regulating power plant emissions. He has also raised questions over whether his agency should be regulating greenhouse gases at all.
Bob Inglis, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina who is working to get others in his party to accept climate change, said that Republicans are often willing to embrace solutions, even if they say they dont believe in climate change.
It doesnt help to point the finger at conservatives and ask, Do you believe? he said. By showing me a solution that fits with my values, Ive got a way to accept the existence of the problem.
Republican support for various policy proposals, nationwide
Attorneys General Step In
Republican attorneys general gathered at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia in August 2015 for their annual summer retreat, with some special guests: four executives from Murray Energy, one of the nations largest coal mining companies.
Murray was struggling to avoid bankruptcy a fate that had befallen several other coal mining companies already, given the slump in demand for their product and the rise of natural gas, solar and wind energy.
The coal industry came to discuss a new part of the campaign to reverse the countrys course on climate change. Litigation was going to be needed, the industry executives and the Republican attorneys general agreed, to block the Obama administrations climate agenda at least until a new president could be elected.
West Virginias attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, led the session, The Dangerous Consequences of the Clean Power Plan & Other E.P.A. Rules, which included, according to the agenda, Scott Pruitt, then the attorney general of Oklahoma; Ken Paxton, Texas attorney general; and Geoffrey Barnes, a corporate lawyer for Murray, which had donated $250,000 to the Republican attorneys general political group.
That same day, Mr. Morrissey would step outside the hotel to announce that he and other attorneys general would sue in federal court to try to stop the Clean Power Plan, which he called the most far-reaching energy regulation in this nations history, drawn up by radical bureaucrats.
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So What Does Trump Actually Believe
that Mr Trump tends to conflate climate change with environmentalism more generally.
“He doesn’t really understand what climate change is about,” says Professor Michael Gerrard, an environmental law professor at the University of Columbia.
Meanwhile, Joseph Goffman, executive director of Harvard’s Environmental Law Programme, argues that Mr Trump “believes nothing on climate change – he’s a climate nihilist”.
Mr Trump’s position is based on his need to appeal to “the part of the Republican establishment that rejects climate policy,” Mr Goffman, who previously worked as Democratic staff director on the Senate environmental committee, adds.
Joseph Pinion, a Republican strategist who has called for more action on climate change, also argues that Mr Trump looks at the issue from a political, rather than a moral perspective.
“He’s not going to win running on the environment,” Mr Pinion says. “In America, climate is not an issue, so the reason it is not an issue for President Trump is because he cares about winning. And the reason Democrats are OK with it not being a priority for them, is because they want to beat him.”
“Ultimately it doesn’t matter what President Trump believes, what matters is what he’s doing – we need to recognise climate change is not a priority of his administration.”
Trump Stokes The Fires
When Donald J. Trump decided to run for president, he did not appear to have a clear understanding of the nations climate change policies. Nor, at the start of his campaign, did he appear to have any specific plan to prioritize a huge legal push to roll those policies back.
Mr. Trump had, in 2012, , The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. But he had also, in 2009, joined dozens of other business leaders to sign a full-page ad in the The New York Times urging Mr. Obama to push a global climate change pact being negotiated in Copenhagen, and to strengthen and pass United States legislation to tackle climate change.
However, it did not go unnoticed that coal country was giving his presidential campaign a wildly enthusiastic embrace, as miners came out in full force for Mr. Trump, stoking his populist message.
And the surest way for Mr. Trump to win cheers from coal crowds was to aim at an easy target: Mr. Obamas climate rules. Hillary Clinton did not help her cause when she said last spring that her climate policies would put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.
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Nearly Nine In 10 Foresee Global Warming Effects Eventually Occurring
In addition to the 59% of Americans who believe the effects of global warming have already begun, another 10% predict they will start happening within a few years or in their own lifetime. A further 19% foresee the effects affecting future generations, bringing the total who believe global warming will eventually affect humans to 88%. Most Americans across all demographic groups expect this, including large majorities of Republicans and independents , and nearly all Democrats .
Still, there is variation across groups in the belief that the effects of global warming have already begun, a view that may be more relevant to the propensity for people to be politically active or factor it into their voting. Democrats , adults aged 18 to 34 , college graduates , non-White Americans and women are significantly more likely than their counterparts to say the effects have begun.
|Percentage with no opinion not shown|
|Gallup, March 1-15, 2021|
Americans Underestimate How Many Others In The Us Think Global Warming Is Happening
ByMatthew Ballew, Abel Gustafson, Parrish Bergquist, Matthew Goldberg, Seth Rosenthal, John Kotcher, Edward Maibach and Anthony Leiserowitz
Perceptions of what other people think and do can have a powerful influence on individuals own beliefs and actions. For example, research on household energy conservation demonstrates that individuals who consume a large amount of energy tend to decrease their energy use when they learn that their neighbors use less energy, and when they are told their peers approve of lower energy usage.
However, people tend to misjudge what the beliefs and actions of others actually are a phenomenon known as pluralistic ignorance.
In our , we found that the American public underestimates how many other Americans think global warming is happening . Americans on average estimate that only 54% of other Americans think global warming is happening, when in fact, 69% of Americans do.
Some subgroups of Americans, including liberal Democrats and those with higher levels of education, more accurately estimate national public opinion about global warming . Conversely, other groups, such as conservative Republicans and people living in rural areas, are less accurate at estimating the opinions about global warming held by their fellow Americans.
The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Endeavor Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the TomKat Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.
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Emotional And Psychological Aspects
Florida State Senator Tom Lee has described the emotional impact and reactions of individuals to climate change. Lee says, “If these predictions do bear out,;that it’s just economically daunting. I mean, you have to be the Grim Reaper of reality in a world that isn’t real fond of the Grim Reaper. That’s why I use the term emotionally shut down, because I think you lose people at hello a lot of times in the Republican conversation over this.” Emotional reactions to climate change may include guilt, fear, anger, and apathy. Psychology Today, in an article titled “The Existential Dread of Climate Change, has suggested that “despair about our changing climate may get in the way of fixing it.” The American Psychological Association has urged psychologists and other social scientists to work on psychological barriers to taking action on climate change.
Most Americans Favor Expanding Renewable Energy Sources But Divides Remain Over Expanding Offshore Drilling Nuclear Power
Most Americans favor expanding solar power or wind power , including strong majorities of both Republicans and Democrats. The public, however, is evenly divided over whether to expand nuclear power . Fewer than half of Americans support more offshore oil and gas drilling , hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas, known as âfrackingâ or coal mining .
These findings are broadly in line with previous Center surveys, which found strong majorities in favor of increasing solar or wind power and more mixed views about expanding other energy sources. Support for more nuclear power plants has inched up 6 percentage points since 2016 . Support for coal mining has declined from 41% to 35% in the same period.
Sizable majorities of both Republicans and Democrats â including those who lean to each party â favor more solar panel farms or wind turbine farms . More Republicans than Democrats support expanding nuclear power plants; support for nuclear power is stronger among conservative Republicans than among moderate or liberal Republicans .
Conservative Republicans also stand out as more inclined to support expansion of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas as well as coal mining . By comparison, fewer than half of moderate or liberal Republicans favor expanding these energy sources .
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Climate Change Is Real
The climate is warming. On denialism and its implications
WHEN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION last year disbanded a committee of scientists advising the Environmental Protection Agency, UCLAs J.R. DeShazo and other researchers from around the United States obtained outside funding and formed an independent entity to carry on the work.
It is called the External Environmental Economics Advisory Committee. I and other environmental economists are evaluating each of the proposed EPA rules, but we are now doing that externally, with help from the Sloan Foundation, DeShazo, chair of the Department of Public Policy and director of the Luskin School for Innovation, said in an interview.
Providing expert advice from outside a government agency, he said, could become a common approach. It is one example of how weve responded to political changes and efforts to limit the use of science in policymaking.
Another response has been to pay more attention to how people accept and act on information, rather than on merely disseminating the information itself. Thats a specialty of another UCLA researcher, Aaron Panofsky, and others who see increasing evidence that a just the facts approach is not enough.
Obama The Antichrist Global Warming A Myth Lizard People Controlling The World Conspiracy Theory Research Reveals Bizarre Beliefs Prevalent In Us
One in five Republican voters believes Barack Obama is the antichrist and nearly a third of all Americans think a secret power elite controls the world, according to new research on conspiracy theories.
A national poll conducted by the Public Policy Polling organisation found that 37 per cent of Americans also think global warming is a hoax, while 11 per cent of the population think the US government allowed the September 11 terrorist attacks to take place.
The surprising results form part of the PPPs in-depth study of how political affiliation can dictate the likelihood of an individual believing in various conspiracy theories.
The research found 34 per cent of Republicans polled believe a New World Order controls the world, compared with 35 per cent of independent voters and just 15 per cent of Democrats.
While a total of 44 per cent of Americans think the Bush administration deliberately misled the public over weapons of mass destruction in an effort to start the Iraq war, that breaks down to 72 per cent of Democrats and just 27 per cent of Republicans.
Other conspiracy theory beliefs have similar political overtones. Only 23 per cent of Democrats think global warming is a hoax, but over half of Republican voters think climate change is an elaborate myth.
Meanwhile 33 per cent of Republicans think Saddam Hussein was in some way connected to the September 11 attacks, while 78 per cent of Democrats disagree with them.
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Only 27% Of Republicans Think Climate Change Is A ‘major Threat’ To The United States
According to a new poll, less than a third of Republicans think that climate change is a “major threat to the well-being of the United States.”
A survey conducted by the Pew Research Institute asked respondents about several “serious global threats,” including Russian influence, the Islamic State and North Korea’s nuclear program.
Global climate change was far and away the most divisive issue: Only 27 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents agreed it was a threat, compared to 84 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.
Overall, though, the issue ranked as the biggest crisis for most respondents, with 57 percent saying it put the U.S. at risk. That’s 2 percent less than were concerned with climate change in a 2017 Pew survey.
That might not be surprising, given the debates about the Green New Deal in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who says he does believe in climate change, claimed the Green New Deal would ” off entire domestic industries down millions of jobsbasically the only sources of energy that working-class and middle-class families can actually afford.”
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State, currently a Democratic candidate for president, has made the environment a central part of his campaign, with a “community climate justice” plan for America to transition to clean economy.
None Of It Is In Good Faith
Having just made that basic argument for the 12 billionth time in my career, let me follow up by pointing out that making that argument is almost certainly futile. There is no interlocutor on the other side interested in arguments of facts. Theres no one to talk to.
To see the true nature of right-wing climate denialism, its better to look past people like Rubio, who have trained their whole lives to pass as moderate on Sunday talk shows. Instead, the real truth of right-wing tribalism works on climate change is embodied by none other than President Donald Trump.
Consider Trumps responses to the questioning of Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes on the subject of climate change. Historians will marvel over this document:
Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes presses Trump about his climate change views. He says: “I think somethings happening. Somethings changing – and itll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s man-made.”
Theres no argument here. Trump does not make arguments. There are just … phrases, unconnected to the phrases that precede and follow them. Its just bits of rhetoric Trump has heard his impression of what his people say about these things jumbled up in his brain.
She protests: But thats denying it. She asks, What about all the scientists?
Scientists also have a political agenda, he says. That sounds like hes calling it a hoax!
Conservatives Have Been Gaslighting The Nation About Climate Change For Years
That is obviously true when it comes to Trump, because he scarcely tries, indeed doesnt know how, to pretend otherwise. But its just as true of the entire conservative movement, for decades now.
All the denialist talking points nefarious scientists, sunspots, natural cycles have their true believers in the base, among the chumps who drink the Kool-Aid and fill up the comment sections.
But the motive force is not any assessment of science. Its the tight alliance between the cultural politics of white resentment and the power of fossil fuel and related industries. To acknowledge anthropogenic climate change is to empower liberals, open the door to additional taxes and regulations, and threaten the power of the fossil fuel industry.
The Republican Party as currently constituted will simply never do those things. Ever. The arguments are secondary.
Its difficult for people who care about climate change to accept this. It implies that all those hours spent earnestly arguing about climate science have been, to a first approximation, wasted. And its been a lot of hours thousands and thousands of hours, spent by people of good faith in hopes that evidence and reason can change minds.
They are gaslighting, not persuading, and it will end when they are beaten and removed from office, not when climate scientists find just the right argument.