Only 34% of Tea Partiers Say Climate Change is Real
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The latest survey from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communications analyzed the climate beliefs of members from each of the major political parties, including those who self-identify as Tea Partiers. There has been little change in the beliefs of those who identify as belonging to the major political parties: 78% of Democrats said they believed climate change was happening, as did 71% of Independents and 53% of Republicans. But amongst those who say they're members of the Tea Party, just 34% said global warming was real. Furthermore, Tea Partiers were much more likely to say they were "well informed" or "very well informed" about climate issues. And they were even more likely to say that they "do not need any more information". In other words, the data supports a common observance -- that the Tea Party has stubbornly made up its mind on climate issues, or at least to a much greater degree .
From the report's Executive Summary:
- ...Tea Party members are more likely to agree that the record snowstorms of the winter of 2010-2011 in the US caused them to question whether global warming is occurring.
- ... Over half (51%) of Tea Party members say they are not at all worried about global warming.
- Nearly half of Democrats (45%) say that global warming is already harming people in the United States, while 33 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of Tea Party members say it will never harm people in the United States
The report clearly shows that the disconnect between actual science and climate belief is much more pronounced amongst Tea Partiers than most others.
There has always been a 'stubborn fringe' that has imbued climate ideas with conspiratorial thinking -- the folks that think global warming is a hoax cooked up by Al Gore, or who think scientists have manipulated data to snag grant money or something. These folks have long had very vocal champions: Rush Limbaugh, most of Fox News, and so forth. The Tea Party, which acts as a sort of an amplification chamber for more extreme conservative views, has in a sense legitimized those counterfactual ideas on climate.
And since the Tea Party is such a powerful, politically activist force -- and notorious for demanding fealty from politicians it supports on its core issues -- we're seeing the entire conservative thought universe veer disproportionately towards climate denial as a result. Which is why Rick Perry can launch into far-fetched conspiracy theories about climate change while running for president of the United States of America -- and not be laughed out of the race.
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