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Bipartisan understanding of basic climate reality

February 28th, 2012 · 4 Comments

Despite the panoply of Republican political elite suffering from acute anti-science syndrome (Santorum, Gingrich, Inhofe), a basic reality:

A majority of Americans (including a plurality of Republicans) understand that climate deniers are deceivers and disconnected from reality.

Earlier today, the Brookings Institution released Belief in Global Warming on the Rebound: National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change. This graphic shows, quite clearly, the reason for the title.

Three major points before delving deeper:

  • To be clear, the title of the report and the subtitle of Figure 1 is simply wrong.  Science is not about belief.  As Dr Vicky Hope put it so well

“When climate scientists like me explain to people what we do for a living we are increasingly asked whether we “believe in climate change”. Quite simply it is not a matter of belief. Our concerns about climate change arise from the scientific evidence that humanity’s activities are leading to changes in our climate. The scientific evidence is overwhelming.”

Look at the question: “Is there solid evidence that the … Earth has gotten warmer?”  Isn’t that a yes/no question related to an understanding of fact and what is happening in the real world (“the scientific evidence”) rather than an affirmation of belief in, for example, God?

  • This report and this polling isn’t exactly ‘news’ on a number of fronts. It is well in line with polling from a year ago and from last fall.
  • We need to remember that is is impressive that, by more than a two-to-one margin, Americans understand this basic fact about the planet in the face of flat-earth promoting political “leaders” like those named above.

The provides us the perspective by party affiliation and race and, well, yes, there is a serious political divide with the vast majority of self-identified Democrats residing in the warming reality-based world. Notable, however, with a presidential nominee choice between a denier … and a denier … and a confused science distorter/avoider … and a …, even a solid plurality of self-identified Republicans know that “there [is] solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warming.”

Understanding of evidence of climate change by selected demographic categories


Solid Evidence

Not Solid Evidence

Not Sure









































College Degree




No College Degree










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Tags: 746 · energy efficiency · Global Warming

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 John Egan // Feb 29, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Hasn’t been a good week for warmistas, eh?

    So, what does this make you, a “coldista”?

    Speaking of reality – – even if you were 100% right (which you are most certainly not) – –

    As written before, anyone with arrogance to believe that they are 100% right, never make an error, don’t have anything to learn from anyone isn’t worth listening to …

    if your ideology becomes political kryptonite, then it stands little chance of implementation.

    How are climate issues doing these days in Canada, Spain, Britain, and soon to be Australia? If you wish to see what will happen to the latter – consider last year’s state election in NSW and next month’s in QLD.

    The real barometer of climate change desperation is a not few ticks of an opinion poll one way or the other, but the lunacy of Gleick’s hit job and the prevarications of those who defend him. Hell, it makes Tonya Harding look like a saint.

    You are stretching things, seriously, in with “makes Tonya Harding look like a saint”.

    “Gleick’s hit job”? Through the release of internal Heartland Institute documents that shine line on their operations, raise questions as to whether they are in violation of restrictions on non-profits, etc …?

    Jump into the world where Gleick’s action brought light to actions to increase risks for the American people and nation due to fighting efforts to deal with climate change via deceptive propaganda undermining understanding of climate science.

    It seems, from your commentary, that you stand with anti-progressive Heartland …

    Reality – – right.

    PS – Remember that I do not argue against the science,

    If you “don’t argue against the science”, what do you suggest is the appropriate policy response to what the scientists are and scientific work is telling us is happening?

    but against the unsupportable projections

    Hmmm … “unsupportable” requires definition, no? Seems to me that those “unsupportable” have a lot of modeling and other “support” to them.

    and the dirigist policy demands – – all of which act to undermine a century of progressive political and economic gains.

    Huh …

    Increased energy efficiency investing in buildings (homes and businesses and government buildings), in all communities, would undermine a century of progressive political and economic gains?

    Greening public schools with jobs, health, educational performance, financial savings benefits would undermine a century of progressive political and economic gains?


    Offer solutions rather than diatribes.

  • 2 sailrick // Feb 29, 2012 at 11:02 am

    so the deceivers have spread their confusion to Australia, what else is new?

    Yes you do argure against science, but not just science, truth, honesty and sanity

  • 3 John Egan // Feb 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Politics is the art of the possible. Granted, that once Gillard formed a minority government with key Green support she had to push forward with carbon legislation – – but, she already had already been trounced in 2010 and polling indicated roughly 2 to 1 opposition – slightly improved to 60/40.

    There are multiple domestic and political reasons for Labor’s demise in Australia – but their tone-deafness on climate legislation is one of the most prominent. Since then Labor has gone on to get trounced in NSW after leading for 20 years and will almost certainly meet the same fate in QLD.

    It is a pattern that has repeated itself over and over in the developed world – with implications for a host of environmental issues – including climate – as well as the basic post-war liberal society.

    PS – You know, Adam, given what I surmise is your cultural background, one would think you might draw the line at some of the eliminationist rhetoric used by the AGWers. The whole framing of “denier” combined with phrases like “sanity” above underscore the ad hominem nature of the AGW cant.

    Start here re denier vs skeptic:

    Moreso, when diarists at other blogs call “deniers””vermin” and call for their “elimination” one would think that might engender a categorical disavowal. Yet, the typical response is excessive praise.

    That is why I stepped away.
    I will not associate with such a position.

  • 4 John Egan // Feb 29, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    The question I asked you was the implication of “eliminationist” rhetoric. Do you acknowledge its use in the climate debate?

    I know the supposed difference between “denier” and “skeptic” and I place myself in the Judith Curry/Lucia Liljegren camp.

    I do not, however, accept the usage of “denier” in any case – regardless of how reactionary the proponent may be. It is long past cut5e. It adds nothing to the discussion. And it is vulgar.