Friday, June 6, 2008

Partisan Politics and Climate change



One of the facts of our current political situation is that our two major political parties are as polarized as ever on so many issues. Sadly, this is true of the issue of Climate Change as well. A new Gallup Report reveals that Democrats and Republicans are becoming more polarized, not less, on this issue (and at the very time when the scientific consensus seems to be increasing):



Overall, Gallup has documented changes in Americans' views of global warming over the past decade. There has been a slight increase in the percentage of Americans who view global warming as already happening, and a more substantial increase in the percentage who believe that a majority of scientists think global warming is occurring, with the result that more than 6 in 10 Americans endorse both views (61% and 65%, respectively). There has also been a sizable increase in the percentage saying global warming will pose a serious threat within their lifetimes, although it is still a minority position at 40%. In contrast, there has been only a slight increase in the percentage saying the seriousness of global warming has been exaggerated, as just over a third of Americans currently express this view. Finally, there has been virtually no change in the percentage agreeing that global warming is due more to human activities, with 6 in 10 Americans holding this view.

What these trends often mask, however, are highly divergent trends among Republicans and Democrats. As noted above, the proportions of Democrats agreeing that global warming is already happening, that most scientists believe it is occurring, and that it will pose a serious threat in their lifetimes have increased substantially over the past decade. At the same time, the proportions of Republicans agreeing that most scientists believe global warming is occurring and that it poses a serious threat have both increased, but more modestly than is true among Democrats, while the proportion of Republicans agreeing that global warming is already happening has declined a bit.

The proportion of Republicans who believe news of global warming's seriousness is exaggerated has grown substantially over the past decade, while the proportion of Democrats expressing this view has been fairly steady. A similar pattern of diverging partisan views has also occurred on the issue of attributing global warming to human activities.

The result of these trends is that there are currently stark differences in Republicans' and Democrats' views of global warming. The claim that environmental protection would be a "motherhood" issue that would unite the nation, commonly made in the early 1970s, has clearly not come to pass -- particularly when it comes to global warming.





Read it all here.

1 comment:

janinsanfran said...

I fear we are looking here at a consciousness that ought to be an evolutionary disadvantage -- though we don't have much of a time frame for this to work itself out in.