According to a new survey led by researchers at the University of Michigan, more Americans than ever, about one in five, say they are not sure whether climate change is occurring. Paradoxically, the survey also shows that those who are convinced that there is no solid evidence of global warming is at its lowest level (15%) in the nine-year history of the poll.
Most interesting however, is the fact that the proportion of Republicans who are uncertain about climate change has doubled in the past twelve months, rising from 13% last year to 26% today.
“Belief that the climate is changing among Republicans was at 56% last fall, and now it’s down to 39%. So that was a pretty big drop,” said Sarah Mills of the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.
Of course, CLOSUP investigators did not ask the right question. They should have asked whether poll respondents believed that dangerous climate change is occurring, or will occur, due to humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions. It is only if man-made climate change is problematic that it should be a public policy issue, let alone worth the over one billion dollars now being spent every day on climate finance across the world. Had researchers asked this question, the survey would have undoubtedly revealed even more uncertainty in the public.
Regardless, asked why such a big change occurred in the stance of GOP supporters, Mills told National Public Radio, “We think that it could be that Donald Trump, the Republican’s presidential nominee, has said he is a non-believer in climate change.”
Trump has certainly been outspoken on the issue. In his May 26 energy policy speech, he promised “to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan” and “cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs. ”
On July 26, Trump told Fox News, “I say it [man-made climate change] could have a minor impact, but nothing, nothing to what they’re [climate activists] talking about. And what it’s doing is putting us at a tremendous disadvantage as a country because other countries are not adhering to the rules; we are and it makes it impossible for our businesses to compete.”
The reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), which reference hundreds of research papers published in the world’s leading science journals, demonstrate that Trump’s climate skepticism is well substantiated. Marc Morano, the executive director of ClimateDepot.com, one of the world’s most influential skeptical Web sites, told Canada’s Rebel Media: “Trump is the first Republican Presidential nominee that has ever staked out a strongly science supported skeptical position not only on climate science claims, but also on the solutions.”
Mills’ speculation about the cause of the big drop in Republican climate change concern appears justified. Trump’s candour does appear to have helped sway public opinion.
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