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


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld4 years ago

Brian F.,

The status of the polar bear is not quite so simple. Although most scientists feel that the increases in polar bear populations cannot continue.

Your IPCC assessment of tropical activity was based on short-term and outdated methods. The most recent assessment from the IPCC AR5 report gives “low confidence”--a 20% chance--that we have observed a human-caused increase in intense hurricanes in some parts of the world," and "it remains uncertain whether past changes in tropical cyclone activity have exceeded the variability expected from natural causes."

The world's oceans contain about 60 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere. Yes, the oceans are well-adapted to be able to absorb (and continue absorbing) excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Current results are inconclusive and speculative only.

While many of your contentions could occur, they also may not. There is no data to support them, only speculation. While this may be sufficient to establish further research, it is not enough evidence to make solid conclusions.

Brian Foster
Brian F4 years ago

Dan B "Lastly, the oceans are not becoming acidic. The small addition of CO2 is not enough to overcome the large buffering capacity"

As levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase — driven by the burning of fossil fuels — the oceans act as a sponge, taking up some of the extra carbon dioxide. The result is carbonic acid, which decreases the overall pH of the oceans. Since the Industrial Revolution, the ocean has become about 25 to 30 percent more acidic, scientists estimate.

Global warming is causing a silent storm in the oceans by acidifying waters at a record rate, threatening marine life from coral reefs to fish stocks, an international study showed on Thursday. The report, by 540 experts in 37 nations, said the seas could become 170 percent more acidic by 2100 compared to levels before the Industrial Revolution. Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, can become a mild acid when mixed with water. Acidification is combining with a warming of ocean waters, also caused by a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and other man-made factors such as higher pollution and overfishing, the report said.

Brian Foster
Brian F4 years ago

Dan B "Global warming has had no effect on tropical cyclonic activity. Numerous studies have reached similar conclusions"

The effect of global warming will cause the number of tropical cyclones to increase. This is because the surface of the ocean will be warmer, more energy which feeds tropical storms. Hurricanes and tropical cyclones tend to die very quickly when moving from cold water, and if the water is warmer, it is natural to expect more.

The IPCC 4th Report shows that intense tropical cyclone (TC) activity has increased since about 1970, with a larger increase in numbers and proportion of hurricanes reaching categories 4 and 5.

Pamela W.
Pamela W4 years ago

Dan B ....... I've had this "discussion" with you before, on another thread, so I'll say no more than ....... You still don't know which way is "up" so it's small wonder that your comments are coming out of your "nether regions" !!!!!

Brian Foster
Brian F4 years ago

Dan B "First, polar bear populations have been increasing for decades. They are not dying. Indeed, the bear cubs have fared better during warmer springs, were the ice breakup as made predation easier"

Without human intervention, most polar bear populations will be extinct in 30-40 years.

The reasons for the decline in Polar Bear populations relating to Global Warming are:

Rapid Arctic ice melt in 2011:
•Arctic sea ice extent for January 2011 was the lowest in the satellite record for that month.
•The winter's maximum Arctic sea ice extent tied for the lowest on record. The year saw the second lowest Arctic ice levels since 1979 when observation began.
•A female polar bear reportedly swam for nine days - nonstop-across the Beaufort Sea before reaching an ice floe, costing her 22 percent of her weight and her cub.

Elizabeth F.
Elizabeth F4 years ago


Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld4 years ago

David A.,

Sure, global warming gets blamed for every ill - it even appears in the fictional works of Michael Scott and J. K. Rowlings. Cheasapeake bay oysters appear to be making a comeback, in spite of any climate changes. It appears local factors are to blame.

David Appell
David Appell4 years ago

By the way, Dan, ocean acidifiadtion is already affecting oyster harvesting in the Pacific Northwest:

I'm sure they will be relieved to know you think it isn't happening enough to matter.