Strange it seems, in 2022, to still be debating the existence of climate change. Forest fires. A scorching arctic. Sea level rise. Desertification. Mass extinction. Melting glaciers. Collapsing ice sheets.
The evidence surrounds us and overwhelms us. Nor, is the underlying science controversial or even new, as I explore in ‘Seven Points You Need to Know About Climate Change.’
As with everything these days, climate change has become polarized. With neither side giving credence to the other, or even hearing a word they say. So maybe Climate Change is real, but the measures, like the Paris Agreements do not add up, nor tackle the event?
Recent research by Pew found only 34% of self-identified modern Republicans and 15% of conservative Republicans believed human-made climate change was underway. As long as the very polluting shipping and aviation industries are getting excluded, things do not add up.
Climate scientists themselves have become totems of mistrust. A miserly 11% of conservative Republicans thought that scientists understood the causes of climate change well; if it was happening at all. Nor, can Democrats grandstand.
Though 54% of liberal Democrats believed in climate change and felt the scientists had a good grasp of the causes, only 28% of moderate/conservative Democrats agreed.
Some studies do present a different picture. Two national surveys of more than 2,000 respondents found Republicans and Democrats shared a basic agreement of the existence of climate change, with Democrats showing more definite concern.
Where disagreement erupted, was what the hell we should be doing about it. Finally, having agreed the titanic is sinking, we’re now left debating how to rearrange the deckchairs.
So, who do we blame? On first analysis, it seems obvious: It’s the Republicans’ fault.
Endless years of Fox News segments declaring a climate hoax. Rush Limbaugh’s diagnosis of the whole shtick as a liberal conspiracy. Glen Beck proclaiming, do I believe scientists? No. They’ve lied to us about global warming.
There are enough examples to fill an encyclopaedia. Three times over. Nor, can Brits get too smug. During the recent Extinction Rebellion protests, disagreement didn’t lay only with the group’s tactics, with many pundits branding the protestors alarmists.
National treasure and lifelong broadcaster David Attenborough could spend years warning of impending doom all he liked. No one was listening.
What has gone wrong? Is climatedenial baked into the conservative psyche? Or has this all been a giant historical misstep?
Part of the blame lies with the media. For over three decades, conservative outlets have pummeled climate science at every opportunity.
Climate change is not about identity, but humanity. Point scoring achieves nothing. The absence of Republicans from the debate is harming our progress. We cannot solve climate change with liberal solutions alone.
Conservative proposals, such as Pigouvian taxes — which embed the cost of environmental damage in the price of the product — are ignored, in favor of big government programs with a poor track record.
Yet they can help reduce regulations, reshape the free market, and tackle climate change and pollution.
Green voices from the right, including Republican icons James Baker and George Shultz go unheard. Their absence is preventing Republicans from rallying to the cause.
To reach a bipartisan agreement, dogmatism must be abandoned. We will need to compromise. Conservatives will need to open their minds, but liberals can help by framing the debate around conservative values.
We have a duty to future generations. America must lead the world forward in the fight against climate change. Nature is God’s creation and must be preserved.
Medium Organization / ABC Flash Point Climate News 2022.