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Politics determines climate change belief… but not climate action

Unsurprisingly, people with conservative political views are significantly less likely to believe in climate change according to a new study published in the journal Nature.   However, the widely held belief that older white men are more likely to be climate sceptics turned out not to be significant.

The study, which aimed to understand attitudes to climate change, drew on the results of 200 previous polls and studies conducted in 57 countries around the world.  And while its main finding was the link between political and environmental views, the more alarming finding was that the majority of those who accepted the reality of climate change refused to take action or to support policies that would curb emissions of greenhouse gases.  As Erik Lindberg explains:

“The denial of climate change isn’t responsible for the fact that we, in the United States, are responsible for about one quarter of all current emissions if you include the industrial products we consume (and an even greater percentage of all emissions over time), even though we make up only 6% of the world’s population.  Our high-consumption lifestyles are responsible for this.  Republicans do not emit an appreciably larger amount of carbon dioxide than Democrats.”

What this means is that we have wasted several decades and a great deal of energy having the wrong argument.  We have been shouting about the problem when we needed to have a grown up debate about the possible solutions… solutions that become less effective with every passing year.

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