Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Stark Partisan Divide on Global Warming

A huge gulf exists between Americans who accept the reality of climate science and those who do not. According to an October 15, 2012, Pew Research Center poll, Democratic voters are more than twice as likely to embrace the facts on global warming than their Republican counterparts.

A growing number Americans, including voters who identify as independents and those from both major parties, believe global warming is occurring. Predictably many Republicans continue to ignore the powerful body of evidence supporting the existence of global warming. This should come as no surprise as the GOP presidential nominee is now leading the climate denial train.

Romney has repeatedly derided efforts to combat global warming, saying “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”

As recently as June 2011 Romney publicly acknowledged anthropogenic climate change, and even advocated for reducing emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases. However, by August 2011, Romney began to shift his position saying that he didn’t know whether or how much humans were contributing to global warming. Then in October last year he affirmed his stance as a climate denier saying:

“My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” he said. “And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

Republicans were not always so resistant to the facts, in 2007, 62 percent of Republicans said there was solid evidence, but then a barrage of misinformation caused these numbers to decline for two consecutive years reaching a low of 35 percent in 2009.

Now a total of 48 percent of Republicans believe the facts about global warming. This is in stark contrast to the 85 percent of Democrats who accept the evidence. It is interesting to note that independent voters are right in the middle with 65 percent accepting reality.

The poll indicates that 67 percent of Americans say there is solid evidence of global warming. The 2012 numbers are four points higher than 2011 and 10 points higher than 2009. However, it remains well below the 77 percent who held at view five years ago.

More than half of Republicans are in the dark on global warming. While 88 percent of Obama voters accept the scientific evidence, only 42 percent of Romney backers accept the truth. And among Obama backers, 59 percent call global warming a “very serious” problem, compared to only 13 percent of Romney’s voters.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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