Saturday, 25 March 2017

You can't educate Republicans on global warming

Many progressives believe that if the public were better informed about the science behind climate change, people would be more inclined to accept the reality of anthropogenic global warming. A U.S. survey by the Pew Research Center suggests that's only true for some people.

Climate scientists tell us that global warming will result in phenomena such as rising sea levels and more severe storms and droughts. Pew asked samples of Democrats and Republicans with low, medium and high levels of science knowledge whether they believed the scientists. They found that only about 20-30 per cent of the Republicans agreed with the scientists and the level of science knowledge made little difference. More of the Democrats with even a low science knowledge agreed with the experts and the number increased rapidly with the level of knowledge.

The same was true regarding the cause of climate change. Ninety-three per cent of the Democrats with high levels of science knowledge agreed that climate change is mostly due to human activity whereas only 49 per cent of Democrats with low science knowledge believed this is the case. Among Republicans, again the level of science knowledge made little difference to their beliefs about the causes of climate change.

It would appear that when it comes to climate change, you can lead a Republican to knowledge but you can't make him think.

One might reasonably suspect, I hope not unfairly, that Conservatives in this country share this rejection of science with their Republican cousins. Unfortunately, a lot of available evidence, including the attitude and behaviour of our last federal government, suggests they do.

1 comment:

The Mound of Sound said...

It's often said that climate change is an issue that got caught in the great political divide. This holds that conservatives see it as a liberal issue and therefore to be opposed or derailed at every turn. That's grossly oversimplifying the conflict.

Any meaningful action to either mitigate or adapt to climate change involves policies that are anathema to conservatives - bigger government, more taxes, social spending on a national level and collaboration and accommodation on a global level. Having expunged the last traces of progressivism in favour of a harder ideology, these are consequences conservatives cannot abide as they defend modes of organization - political, economic and social - suited to conditions up to the 80s but since then of steadily declining utility.

In the Canadian context, this can be said of both Conservatives and Liberals. Trudeau made many inspiring promises only to morph into a clone of Harper at the mere suggestion of tough slogging ahead.

Recall when Trudeau said his government's policy would be guided by science? Please wake me up when that begins to happen.