Environment

About That Anti-Climate Change Spike in the U.S.

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorSep 27, 2011 11:25 AM

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On Sunday, a longish AP article appeared, with this headline:

The American 'allergy' to global warming: Why?

The reporter, Charles Hanley, takes stock of the hardening U.S. attitudes on climate change, including the sharp divergence between Democrats and Republicans. But Hanley seems to conflate the reasons for this state of affairs. Charlie Petit at The Tracker notices as well:

The story takes on a genuine and profound issue. It may not describe it quite correctly, however. The allergy term seems right enough. but is it one expressed by the American public overall, or primarily by elected officials? That is, the enormous surge of conservative lawmakers in Congress last year, and the deepening freeze in place on climate laws including a push by the next conservative batch of candidates to undo the ones we have, seems mainly to be a reflection of voter anger over a continuing rotten economy. The bums that got tossed were mostly Dems, and the Republicans who went in were heavily of Tea Party persuasion. Scoffing at climate science, along with even more securely bedrock science such as evolution, is a trait of that lot. The GOP's primaries, heavily dominated by determined activists, compel candidates to court the Tea Party faithful. So a tail wags the dog. Yet public polls find Americans tend to say climate change is real, and a problem. Some of us have this allergy, but not most. Second, to what degree does the USA stand out? One's impression is that Australian and Canadian governments have somewhat similarly scaled down their intentions to curb carbon emissions, and perhaps one can include the UK. Globally, for reasons beyond this allergy, no carbon regs with teeth seem to be on the immediate agenda. I can cite no specific study but do feel that while the US stands out, it does not do so by much.

Seems about right to me.

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