Sorry, Tea Party: Conservatives Don’t Agree With You on Climate Change
Congressman Joe Barton of Texas and Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma may label climate change as a “hoax,” but the people of Texas and Oklahoma believe that climate change is real and that the government should step in to limit greenhouse gas emissions, according to new research revealed earlier this month.
The research, by Stanford University social psychologist Jon Krosnick, questions the conventional wisdom of climate denial as a central pillar of Republican politics, and especially for Tea Party conservatives.
Looking at data collected from almost 20,000 people between 2006 and 2013, Krosnick found that even in the reddest of Republican states, a majority of people believe climate change is real. He presented his findings to the congressional Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change in Washington, D.C.
Despite the common perception that opinions vary across different parts of the country, survey data analyzed by Krosnick at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment establishes that most Americans are in agreement with the scientific consensus on global warming.
When asked, “What is your personal opinion? Do you think that the world’s temperature probably has been going up over the past 100 years, or do you think this probably has not been happening?” the vast majority of Americans confirmed that, yes, it’s been getting hotter.
That’s because they’ve experienced it that way. Krosnick said the findings suggest personal experiences of hot weather, especially in warm states in the southwest, persuaded Texans and others that the climate was indeed changing within their own lifetimes.
That’s right, even in such reliably red states as Texas and Oklahoma, there is far-reaching acceptance that climate change is indeed occurring and is caused by human activities.
“To me, the most striking finding that is new today was that we could not find a single state in the country where climate scepticism was in the majority,” Krosnick said in an interview.
It’s not surprising that states that voted for President Obama believe climate change is occurring and support curbs on carbon pollution. Some 88 percent of Massachusetts residents believe climate change is real.
But Texas and Oklahoma are among the reddest of red states and are represented in Congress by Republicans who regularly dismiss the existence of climate change.
Even more convincing, the research indicated substantial support for Obama’s decision to use the Environmental Protection Agency to cut emissions from power plants. The polling found that at least 62 percent of Americans were in favor of action cutting greenhouse gas emissions from plants.
Henry Waxman, the Democrat who co-chairs the taskforce on climate change, said in a statement that the findings showed Americans were ready to take action to cut emissions that cause climate change.
“This new report is crystal clear,” said Waxman. “It shows that the vast majority of Americans – whether from red states or blue – understand that climate change is a growing danger. Americans recognize that we have a moral obligation to protect the environment and an economic opportunity to develop the clean energy technologies of the future. Americans are way ahead of Congress in listening to the scientists.”
Some 58 percent of Republicans in the current Congress deny the existence of climate change or oppose action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress.
Apparently politicians in the U.S. are out of touch with the people they represent.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock