Politics and global warming

According to a recent study, the strongest predictor of whether or not you believe that climate change is real and mostly human-caused, as most scientists believe, is your political preference. Essentially, if you’re liberal and vote Democratic, you are more likely to think that the globe is warming and will only get hotter, with potentially disastrous consequences—again, as most scientists conclude. However, if you’re a Republican, you also dismiss the fact and science of climate change.

Two broad conclusions emerged. First, many intuitively appealing variables (such as education, sex, subjective knowledge, and experience of extreme weather events) were overshadowed in predictive power by values, ideologies, worldviews and political orientation. Second, climate change beliefs have only a small to moderate effect on the extent to which people are willing to act in climate-friendly ways.

That second conclusion is almost as depressing as the first. Most of us hold fast to our political beliefs, more so if we are conservative, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to convince a Republican that climate change poses a threat to the planet and its species. Yet, as the study’s authors found, even if we accept the reality of climate change and the underlying science, we’re hesitant to do anything about it.