Never Mind the Science: Belief in Climate Change Still Largely Dictated by Ideology

Wed, 2008-09-17 23:08Jeremy Jacquot
Jeremy Jacquot's picture

Never Mind the Science: Belief in Climate Change Still Largely Dictated by Ideology

“With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phony science, could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? It sure sounds like it.” – Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), July 28, 2003.

Few issues in recent memory have riven the body politic as profoundly as climate change. A matter, which, by all accounts, has long been considered fait accompli by the scientific community, has – to the outside world’s great surprise – remained a point of deep ideological dissent within the United States. Opinion polls taken over the past few years have consistently demonstrated a yawning partisan divide over the issue, with Democrats claiming, often by substantial margins, that the effects of climate change have already begun to manifest.

And while the likes of Senator Inhofe certainly exemplify the very worst of climate demagoguery, it is not hard to find others, within government, academic and business circles, who refuse to acknowledge the evidence for man-made climate change – let alone climate change.

In a fascinating article published in the latest issue of Environment Magazine, Riley E. Dunlap and Aaron M. McCright, sociologists from Oklahoma State University and Lyman Briggs College, respectively, explore this phenomenon, its origin and its implications for the 2008 presidential election. They trace the roots of this ideological gap to the early 1980s, when the “Reagan Revolution” ushered in a wave of pro-market, anti-environmental policies that helped lay the ground for the full-blown partisan warfare that would erupt during the second Bush administration.

Up until then, Republicans and Democrats had worked together to enact some of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation – culminating in a series of landmark bills signed into law by President Nixon during the early 1970s – and had enjoyed a shared responsibility for the stewardship of the country’s natural resources. That all began to change once President Reagan took office, bringing a deep-seated distrust of environmental policy and government intervention to his administration.

As Dunlap and McCright note, the divide became particularly noticeable among members of Congress, reaching a new apogee under the tenure of House Speaker Newt Gingrich during the mid-1990s, when he and his colleagues sought to thwart every one of the Clinton administration’s major initiatives.

Clinton’s embrace of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 was a watershed moment in environmental politicking, prompting Republicans and their conservative allies in the media to angrily denounce climate science and disavow any evidence suggesting the existence of climate change. This marked the beginning of a long period of ideological jousting during which partisan divisions over climate change only seemed to deepen – this despite the fact that a scientific consensus was growing that climate change was man-made and already underway.    

Indeed, the results of a Gallup Poll taken over the last decade show that Republicans have become less likely to believe that the effects of climate change are already taking place – shrinking from 48 to 42 percent. On the other hand, the number of Democrats who hold this belief has steadily increased – growing from 52 to 76 percent. While a slim majority of Republicans now say that there is a scientific consensus on climate change, the authors point out that this percentage has remained virtually static during the last 7 years (strangely coinciding with a certain presidency). More worrying are results indicating that the number of Republicans who believe climate change is man-made has dropped 13 percentage points from 2001 to 2008 (53 to 40 percent).

Overall, though the poll findings suggest Americans have become more cognizant of climate change, and generally more concerned about its potential repercussions, they also lay bare the yawning gap that separates Democrats from Republicans on this issue. The more well-informed the respondents professed to be, the more likely they were to have highly divergent views – regardless of their political inclinations. In other words, those who already held firm beliefs about climate change – one way or the other – were more likely to respond in partisan overtones.

Which president is elected in November could mark an important turning point in this debate. While an Obama presidency might further entrench these longstanding divisions, a McCain presidency, the authors argue, could lead to a fundamental rethink of climate and energy policy among Republicans, possibly inaugurating a new era of bipartisan cooperation. Given McCain’s recent selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, an avowed skeptic of man-made climate change and fossil fuel enthusiast, as his running mate (and his own blatant flip-flopping on offshore drilling and other energy-related issues), however, it seems unlikely that his election will do much to change perceptions among the conservative rank-and-file.   

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Comments

Pff. He hasn't pushed for it yet.
More likely, a McCain era would be 8 years of doing little instead of 8 years of nothing.
That might have been enough 15 years ago, but it would be a disaster today.

McCain doesn't see the problems with the same urgency as the democrats.
Where will he find Republicans to appoint and push hard for real policies?
Do any even exist besides the governator? They are a very endangered species.

McCain is content with thinking about a modest cap-and-trade, possibly a bail-out provision if his party whines loudly enough. He can't bring himself to support deployment of green technologies. They are all 'pork barrel' a term that described the rotten meat and ripoffs of 19th century military purchasing. McCain is all for that type of budget item.

George W. Bush told the American public he would adopt a carbon plan. He lied.
McCain has a long opposed every form of renewable energy.
His campaign talk and promises cannot be trusted. The stakes are enormous.

http://www.matternetwork.com/2008/9/mccains-50-votes-against-clean.cfm

Prediction: Obama will win 2 consecutive terms along with a democratic congress and American CO2 emissions will go up rather than down. US coal and oil use will go up rather than down and that is in supposedly the most progressive part of the world. You can't turn this ship around folks.

Meanwhile Asian CO2 emissions will go way up.

It's just reality.

You can build a million plug in hybrids and a whole bunch of solar and wind infrastructure and it won't matter. CO2 is going up until nature starts bringing it down and that will have nothing to do with a bunch of humans building wind mills and driving Chevy Volts.

No - you can't fix this planet. You are dreaming.
The next hundred years is going to feature steady growth in world wide coal burning. There is no government or organization or political philosophy that can stop that. It's a huge self centered fantasy to think you can save the world. It's too big, too complex, too divided, too self centered and basically too evil.

Oh, okay, let's just give up & stop trying.

when I was a kid I wanted to fly like a bird, but it was impossible. I know that now and I'm unlikely to jump off any cliffs. You guys go ahead though.

Yes. Instead deal with the coming changes. Put money into things that are far more important and immediate, like cancer research.

AGW is ALL ABOUT Idiology.
Always has been.

Here is more proof, as if more is needed.

World's First Carbon Sequestration Plant Goes Online Despite Protests

Yes.... The greenies protested it. They very clearly are not interested in solutions that do not include a distruction of Capitalism.

Idiology - caused by Global Warming.

http://www.dailytech.com/Worlds+First+Carbon+Sequestration+Plant+Goes+Online+Despite+Protests/article12932.htm

ABL - Anywhichway but Left

that's hillarious - Climate warriors protesting CO2 capture because the technology is not proven. just unbelievable.

Climate Kids - you are your own worst enemies.

did any of you guys ever pass a spelling test?

Fern Mackenzie

nice shot Fern, I admire that.
I give myself about an 8 out of 10 on spelling, mostly on account of my great humility.

nothing else you've written bears comment. Why bother? It's the same old stuff over and over again. Fern Mackenzie

Elitism is a great hobby. I hope your dressed properly for it. no jeans!

I'm not quite sure how pointing out that you guys spell badly and keep going around in circles on the same talking points ad nauseum makes me elitist.

But since I'm still up anyway (yawn) and have nothing better to do (sad, isn't it?), I will say this: most of the sceptical commentary I've been reading here lately seems to have taken flight into a denialist Wild Blue Yonder. Claims that the "AGW cultists" are grasping at straws, desperate because it's all falling apart, etc etc etc, are all over the place. I must have missed something, because I have seen nothing in the scientific literature or mainstream media to suggest any such thing. Mainly what I am seeing is that (a) things might be worse than we thought, and (b) around the world people are getting down to work making changes in their lives and taking AGW seriously. But that's just me, talking to my neighbours and colleagues, reading credible news sources, keeping my ear to the ground.

Of course, there is always that rogue elephant, Rob, the big dumb creature barging in to claim censorship and hypocrisy here at DSB -- that's good for a laugh. But not worth a response. I will accept an accusation of elitism with respect to Rob. He is beneath contempt, and a cretin of the first water. (Okay, Richard. I will take my lumps. That's a personal attack, and I accept a warning. mea culpa

Fern Mackenzie

Actually .... no.
Spelling has always been a struggle for me since grade school.
Does that mean that any statement I make is automatically false because it may contain spelling errors?
Just wondering.

BTW: I have no difficulty with the following:
fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too
Cna yuo raed tihs?
Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a
wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer
be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll
raed it whotuit a pboerlm.

That's bizzar. I read that no problem. I also have dyslexia. Wonder if that is related.

As long as the first and last letters are where they belong and the words form a complete thought. I saw an article about it last year.

Fern Mackenzie

Gary, wrong about the science, but good point about the greenie politics. It was environmentalists who stopped BC government from addressing Mountain Pine Beetle when it was still small area. Environmentalists who belw their load putting spikes in timber instead of waiting for a real concern with unlimited downside (AGW). And environmentalists who have until recently fought cap-n-trade and carbon pricing.

I really hope the United Nation's Kyoto II discussions integrate a carbon tarriff on imports from dirty nations. This would need real government involvement, not just feel good 1.4x toothless penalties. The idea would be to assign a ladder of newly constructed electricity generating capacity post-2012. The known GHG intensity of coal, oil, and natural gas is 1, 0.8, and 0.6. Throw in soot and maybe get 1.2 0.8 0.6. (employment intensive) Wind turbines maybe 0.1. Tidal, geothermal, and conservation the same. Tropical hydro maybe 0.5, temperate hydro dams 0.3? Various solar architectures maybe 0.1-0.5. Nuclear 3rd generation 0.6, 4th generation 0.5. To address fears of a recession, make the tarriffs revenue neutral; subsidized clean exports balance dirty tarriffs, globally. Allow developing nations access to these technologies. Those that don't have access, get a discount or full exemption. The idea is to set a baseline at say 0.6, and all newly constructed power generation infrastructures above the baseline get an export tarriff, and those below get an export subsidy. Need trained UN technicians to verify power plants. Funny brainstroming civilization preserving policy for every nation on Earth (after Nov 6th) except for Canada.

You have confidence that the world can work together on climate beyond signing papers one day and tearing them up the next? I don't understand how anyone can think that way if they take even the briefest look at history.

The world amounts to 300 heavily armed camps. Most of the time they can just barely hold back from shooting each other and often they fail in that endeavor.

No sorry, the world is not going to hold hands and fix the climate. That's a day dream. They will fight to the death over the last drop of oil.

"I really hope the United Nation's Kyoto II discussions integrate a carbon tarriff on imports from dirty nations."

RUSSIA KILLS KYOTO II

Planet Gore, 18 August 2008
http://planetgore.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NDU2ZDk4MTk5OGJmMGFlMWFjYmN
mMjY2ZDg3NGRkNTg=

Chris Horner

Benny Peiser's CCNet brings our attention to this Globe and Mail item today. In it, the authors note some of the repercussions to Europe's own energy strategy from Russia's bloody Georgian gambit, which is the latest move in its expanding play to recover lost influence through
energy (read this book -
http://www.amazon.com/Soviet-Putin-Back-Michael-Economides/dp/0615194141
- for a discussion of how the Bolshies actually did the same thing to solidify their initial, not-so-dissimilar coup into a recognized nation-state).

The impacts go further, as I detail in a forthcoming Energy Tribune piece. Without spoiling it: Brussels' Kyoto agenda demands that Poland, the Czechs, and everyone else with very good reasons to distrust the
Russians leave their coal in the ground and rely instead on gas ... which in practice would be mostly Russian gas. As I have detailed in this space before, the EU was already having a hard time wrestling those pesky new member states to the ground on this dangerous proposal. Now, they can forget about it.

Russia turned off the supply to Poland more than a decade before pulling the plug on Ukraine. For the reasons I cite in ET, those who are in the business of finding silver linings have Russia to thank for finally slaying the Kyoto beast.

Phillip Huggan;
I would argue that there is precious little science to be wrong about when it relates to AGW. If there was, it would not be controversial.
While I agree with your assertion that more international cooperation would be good for many important issues, I very much disagree that the UN can be trusted to handle any part of it.
They are corrupt to the core and have shown it clearly many times.
The IPCC is but another typical UN political group with an agenda that has nothing at all to do with climate or aiding anything but the bank accounts of tim pot dictators.
The UN should be disbanded. NOW!

I laughed out loud at the idea in this post that full-blown partisan warfare did not erupt until the Bush administration.

Reminds me of the old line that every generation thinks it invented sex.

Jeremy, there is nothing new under the sun, least of all, partisan warfare.

"A matter, which, by all accounts, has long been considered fait accompli by the scientific community"

And that is EXACTLY what turned me away from AGW. "The science is settled! There is a consensus AGW is true! AGW is a fact!" Etc, etc.

Well, I hate to burst your bubble but, and I will bold it so you understand, NOTHING IN SCIENCE IS SETTLED!! And that includes all theories in science, including gravity. Think they understand, fait accompli, what gravity is and how it works? Nope, Einstein never figured it out, and still the great minds of physics have not figured it out. All theories in science are tentative, and NEVER considered by consensus.

Soon as I saw these proclamations that the science was settled, I knew immediately something was seriously wrong with AGW.

No, it is not "fait accompli" by any stretch of the imagination. 2/3 of some thousand geologists at a recent conference in Norway fully reject AGW, as one example. Half of the meteorologists in the US do not accept AGW. And the list of signatures grows http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p36.htm.

But keep spinning the faith, and twisting the truth with it, as that is what AGW has become.

strong points - and so then what is going on with all these climatologists?

Lets say an on side climatologist says to himself. The big picture tells me that mankind's effects are being overstated. We really can't raise or lower temperatures and tides. We really can't melt and freeze ice packs"

Now that guy has a problem. If he publishes papers to that affect, he is going to be ostracized first by the global warming community, then by his peers, because of their individual fears of being ostracized themselves.

That's how closed groups in the human race operate - always.

lol, attacking gravity now too. You can be PM or Prez. The future will regard Conservatives and Republicans as evil, and whatever Holocaust that threatens to occur in the future as still preventable as of Sept/2008.
Must suck siding with Nazis.

Boy there sure are a lot of people who have strong, intollerant, racist, leftists political faith. Keep dreaming.

I could add if I were as twisted as you and say "Must suck siding with Stalin." But I'm a civilized person and do not resort to political, racist, intolerant, ignorant, insults as you do.

"Belief in Climate Change Still Largely Dictated by Ideology"

And that is why AGW is now a religion, because it is now a belief system. Nothing in science is on belief, it is on evidence.

Co2 molecules act as one way mirrors, permitting more energy in the form of light in, than infrared energy out. This energy is absorbed in our hydrosphere's and biosphere's systems, warming them over time. Someone refute this, plz. If I'm wasting time studying climate change instead of patent systems, medical trials or agriculture, plz enlighten me.
Human history is a process of those who wish to make this world a better place gradually succeeding over those in positions of power who lie, like Harper and GWB. I know what side I'm on and why.

Strawman sockpuppet.

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frankbi.wordpress.com

Except it is not so simple. If it were climatologists would not need expensive super computers to try and figure it out.

In fact, the climate is a chaotic system with millions of permutations and combinations at work. Not a single model has accurately predicted the future climate, and all have to be back casted to fit what actually happened.

Above: A sockpuppet replying to a strawman sockpuppet.

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frankbi.wordpress.com

I support Frank's right to make the decision to take the meds or not.

My description is the basis for the science. Computer models help in almost every physical field. They've emerged El Nino very recently.
Chaos in the physical climate sciences can refute AGW via negative feedbacks. These were the first things scientists looked for decades ago. Sorry deniers, all have been dry wells to date. I've never seen a denier aware of the state of climate science. The uncertainties are candidly represented by IPCC. Deniers know this but lie. Deniers repaetedly use the same lies over and over despite being presented with the truth. Deniers are actively seeking the end of our civilization and succeeding to date.

"They've emerged El Nino very recently"

Prove it. Models did not predict the current PDO nor La Nina. They certainly did nor predict the current cooling trend from 1998, and as yet I'm still waiting for a peer reviewed paper that explains the cooling trend from 1945-1975 in spite of a four fold increase in CO2 levels. I'm also waiting for a peer reviewed paper explaining how the warm period from 1850-1945 was from human CO2 in spite of the fact that our emissions were essentially negligible (in 1945 it was only 14% of today’s emissions).

Secondly, current models are back updated with new climate information that the models did not predict to make them appear to be on target.

"The uncertainties are candidly represented by IPCC. "

Interesting the AGW dogmatists require the IPCC to bolster their claim, but then deviate radically from it when it suits their purpose. Example is the rate of sea level sire. Alarmists are always way above the IPCC maximum, and claim the IPCC is too conservative. Double standard.

"Chaos in the physical climate sciences can refute AGW via negative feedbacks." Do we understand all aspects of the positive and negative feedbacks? No. For if we did we would be able to explain why temps dropped from 1945-1975 in spite of a four fold increase in CO2 emissions.

"Sorry deniers, all have been dry wells to date. I've never seen a denier aware of the state of climate science." Since I'm not a denier but a skeptic none of the rest of your diatribe affects me.

http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/news-nasa-to-hold-press-conference-on-the-state-of-the-sun/

"WASHINGTON — NASA will hold a media teleconference Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 12:30 p.m. EDT, to discuss data from the joint NASA and European Space Agency Ulysses mission that reveals the sun’s solar wind is at a 50-year low. The sun’s current state could result in changing conditions in the solar system. "

Oooo, this will be interesting! Imagine the fallout if they predict decades of falling temperatures for us.

Time for a poll. If the NASA sun report shows a prolonged cooling for the next decades will you abandon AGW? I will accept when ever it is they say is likely, with a dash of skepticism.

What do you want a poll for, if you're just going to ignore the results?

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frankbi.wordpress.com

Somehow we have got to find more effective ways to communicate about global threats and impending dangers. People are not saying loudly, clearly and often enough what they know to be true….not speaking truth to power.

Politicians are posing for the public and pandering to those with great wealth; business investment brokers are devising pyramid schemes, stealing billions and “breaking” the bank; and the mass media is turning a blind eye to the entire mess.

Such woefully inadequate leadership needs to be identified and replaced.

The family of humanity could soon, very soon, be confronted with an economic and/or ecological wreckage of an unimaginable kind; but, because people are not reasonably and sensibly communicating with one another, the chances for taking the measure of certain ominously looming global challenges and finding reality-oriented solutions to them are diminishing day by day.

Somehow we have got to find more effective ways to communicate about global threats and impending dangers. People are not saying loudly, clearly and often enough what they know to be true….not speaking truth to power.

different people and groups perceive different problems as the most critical. Is it climate change or religious terrorism or poverty or population or something else?

Politicians are posing for the public and pandering to those with great wealth; business investment brokers are devising pyramid schemes, stealing billions and “breaking” the bank; and the mass media is turning a blind eye to the entire mess.

mass media is a commercial enterprise. they attract eyes and ears with a mix of scare stories and entertainment. they tend to swing to the entertainment angle. I don't know how you can fix that without imposing some sort of authoritarianism

Such woefully inadequate leadership needs to be identified and replaced.

this sounds like an argument for an entirely different kind of government... Government chosen by the elite, the well placed. Individuals who won't be pandered to the way the general public is... some kind of closed authoritarianism

The family of humanity could soon, very soon, be confronted with an economic and/or ecological wreckage of an unimaginable kind; but, because people are not reasonably and sensibly communicating with one another, the chances for taking the measure of certain ominously looming global challenges and finding reality-oriented solutions to them are diminishing day by day.

the scary part of this statement to me is the desperation. Desperation calls for extreme measures.
The story of extreme measures moved by desperation is the story of Nazism, Communism and Fascism. It's the story of strong leaders and communicators like Hitler, Stalin, S. Hussein and many others. The cure may be worse than the disease.

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