Quantcast

Climate Skepticism Linked to Conservative Politics Predominantly in U.S.

Politics
Food & Water Watch / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

A recent Gallup Poll found that the partisan divide on climate change is growing in the U.S., with a decreasing number of Republicans and an increasing number of Democrats concerned about its impacts.

Now, research conducted by the University of Queensland and published in Nature Climate Change Monday finds a political climate divide unique to the U.S.


"I was intrigued why, of the 17 candidates who campaigned to be the Republican nominee for the 2016 United States presidential campaign, many were openly skeptical of climate science," study lead author and University of Queensland Professor Matthew Hornsey said in a university press release.

"This mainstream rejection of climate science among a major political party was not evident in other countries, which raised the question: is the tendency for conservatives to be more climate skeptical a global phenomenon, or something that's distinctively American?" he said.

To assess this, Hornsey and his colleagues surveyed 5323 people from 25 countries, including the U.S. The questions placed respondents on four different political scales—left v. right, liberal v. conservative, individualist v. communitarian and hierarchical v. egalitarian—and also asked them about their readiness to believe in various conspiracy theories, Ars Technica reported Tuesday.

The U.S. was the only country to show a statistically significant correlation between all four political scales, conspiracy-theory belief and climate skepticism, Ars Technica reported.

"We found that in approximately 75 percent of the countries surveyed, conservatives didn't show any more skepticism of climate change than other people," Hornsey said.

According to Ars Technica, three other countries did show a weaker correlation between ideology and climate opinion. Canada and Australia showed a relationship between conservatism and climate skepticism on three of the four scales, and Brazil on two of the four.

Interestingly, researchers pointed out, all four countries have high carbon dioxide emissions.

The report concluded that the results were encouraging for global efforts to fight climate change.

"This suggests that ideological barriers to accepting science don't emerge from people spontaneously critiquing scientific consensus through the lens of their world views," Hornsey explained in the press release.

Instead, climate denialism is encouraged in high emitting countries by organizations or individuals with a vested interest in maintaining the profitability of fossil fuels.

For example, in the U.S., the fossil-fuel funded Heartland Institute is a think-tank that works to cast doubt on the validity of climate science.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Coral restoration in Guam. U.S. Pacific Fleet / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Erica Cirino

Visit a coral reef off the coast of Miami or the Maldives and you may see fields of bleached white instead of a burst of colors.

Read More
Cracker Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana. Jacob W. Frank / NPS / Flickr

By Jason Bittel

High up in the mountains of Montana's Glacier National Park, there are two species of insect that only a fly fishermen or entomologist would probably recognize. Known as stoneflies, these aquatic bugs are similar to dragonflies and mayflies in that they spend part of their lives underwater before emerging onto the land, where they transform into winged adults less than a half inch long. However, unlike those other species, stoneflies do their thing only where cold, clean waters flow.

Read More
Sponsored
Augusta National / Getty Images

By Bob Curley

  • The new chicken sandwiches at McDonald's, Popeyes, and Chick-fil-A all contain the MSG flavor enhancement chemical.
  • Experts say MSG can enhance the so-called umami flavor of a food.
  • The ingredient is found in everything from Chinese food and pizza to prepackaged sandwiches and table sauces.

McDonald's wants to get in on the chicken sandwich war currently being waged between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A.

Read More
Protesters march during a "Friday for future" youth demonstration in a street of Davos on Jan. 24 on the sideline of the World Economic Forum annual meeting. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Youth climate activists marched through the streets of Davos, Switzerland Friday as the World Economic Forum wrapped up in a Fridays for Future demonstration underscoring their demand that the global elite act swiftly to tackle the climate emergency.

Read More
chuchart duangdaw / Moment / Getty Images

By Tim Radford

The year is less than four weeks old, but scientists already know that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to head upwards — as they have every year since measurements began leading to a continuation of the Earth's rising heat.

Read More