Environment

"The Bottom Line is That Climate Change is a Partisan Issue"

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyMar 30, 2007 2:02 PM

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So says Roger Pielke, Jr., in a very illuminating post. He also adds: "On the very hot-button issues of climate change and the teaching of evolution, Republican political agendas require confronting current scientific consensus." I agree entirely--indeed, that's the whole point of The Republican War on Science (of which Roger has been critical). This doesn't mean partisan alignments on these issues can't change; it doesn't mean that the situation has necessarily been the same in other periods in history; it doesn't mean the situation is the same in other countries. But right now, these are partisan issues--even if some would like to convince us otherwise. The truth is that there's a strong climate of cowardice in Washington, D.C., when it comes to the subject of partisanship. Everyone wants to cite a few token mavericks from the other side in support of their position and then claim it's "bipartisan," while ignoring the starkly obvious fact that by and large, the two parties split dramatically on that issue. The media reinforces this phenomenon by constantly (and brainlessly) decrying "partisanship," as if it's somehow a bad thing. The truth, of course, is that it frequently makes good sense to vote down the line for a party whose positions you trust, knowing very well that if that party has more power, then more of your values are likely to be reflected in policy. By contrast, it often makes very little sense for voters to elect mavericks who buck their parties now and again on specific issues, but who by virtue of their party identification, help that party remain in power. This, you might say, is the situation with many liberal New England Republicans (or at least it was until recently). To be sure, I don't expect reason to prevail any time soon when it comes to partisanship. There is more cant on this matter than perhaps on any other subject in Washington. Still, I'm not going to stop stating the obvious--or at least not until, on an issue like global warming, it actually ceases to be so obvious.

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