Denying Climate Change Is Bad for Your Electoral Health

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Aug. 8 2013 10:30 AM

Denying Climate Change Is Bad for Your Electoral Health

Earth on fire

Fire image courtesy peasap's Flickr photostream; Earth image from NASA; composite by Phil Plait.

Some good news for a change when it comes to global warming: A new bipartisan poll shows strong support among young voters for taking action about climate change.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

The poll was jointly run by the (Democratic) Benenson Strategy Group and the (Republican) GS Strategy Group, who conducted 600 telephone interviews (giving a 4 percent margin of error at the 95 percent level—in other words, there’s good confidence the numbers found are accurate to ±4 percent. It found that 66 percent of young voters think that we must address the problem of climate change, and a similar number think it is already affecting us (and it is).


A whopping 80 percent of the respondents support President Obama taking action, and even among those who are unfavorable of the President over half support action being taken.

That’s incredibly encouraging. And it gets better: 79 percent say they are more likely to vote for someone who supports action on climate change, and 73 percent say they would vote against someone who opposed it.

In other words, young voters are far more likely to vote for you if you acknowledge reality, and also far more likely to vote against you if you deny it.

And it still gets better: Those same respondents tie a denial of the science to “a much broader failure of values and leadership”. Words used in conjunction with this were “ignorant”, “out of touch”, and even “crazy”.


I suggest reading the whole report summary; it’s only two pages, and it’s pretty interesting.

I can think of a long list of (overwhelmingly Republican) politicians who need to see this poll. I know that some are so firmly entrenched in their denial of reality that there is no hope of changing their minds—a look at the House Science Committee membership is a good place to start. On the Senate side, there’s no lack of head-in-the-sandism either. I’m looking at you, James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), and a whole lot of other “R-whatevers”.

I have long decried how the firm and absolutist denial of reality has, in some cases, become a party platform for Republican politicians (and I’ll note that if you actively support science I will support that effort, despite your other beliefs).

Now, however, I can have some hope that this backwards stance will have an impact at the polls, and a strongly negative one for those who refuse to live in the 21st century. That’s fine with me; if they are not willing to accept science and face reality, I have no problem with our unemployment numbers going ever so slightly up. We all have to live in our warming future, and it’s way, way past time we gave these deniers the boot and got moving on making that future better.

Tip o’ the voting booth lever to The Guardian.



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