Friday, March 30, 2018

Partisan divide on climate change grows; EPA administrator pushes talking points that downplay humans' role in it

"Fewer Republicans say they believe that there is a scientific consensus on climate change or that the effects of global warming have already begun, according to a new Gallup poll, which showed a widening partisan gap near record levels," reports Steven Mufson of The Washington Post. Meanwhile, "an increasing number of Democrats believe that the effects of global warming have already begun and that warming will pose a 'serious threat' in their lifetimes. As in earlier surveys, an overwhelming portion of Democrats are worried about climate change and link it to human activities."

Ninety percent of Democrats said they worry about global warming and think it's caused by humans, while only a third of Republicans do. Seventy percent of Republicans think the threat of global warming is "generally exaggerated," but only one in 25 Democrats do.

There was a total 16-percentage-point swing between Republicans' and Democrats' beliefs on whether climate change has already begun affecting the environment. This year 34 percent of Republicans said it was, down from 41 percent in 2017. This year 82 percent of Democrats said it was, up from 73 percent in 2017.

"Gallup asked whether people agreed that most scientists believe global warming is occurring, and 42 percent of Republicans said yes, down from 53 percent a year earlier and back to a level last seen in 2014," Mufson reports. "Just 35 percent of Republicans said that they believe global warming is caused by human activities, down from 40 percent."

Of those surveyed March 1-8, 45 percent overall said global warming would be a serious threat within their lifetimes, the highest level since Gallup began asking the question in 1997. Majorities said most scientists agree that global warming is happening, that it is caused by humans and that it has already begun affecting the planet. Those are facts.

Independents may have become slightly less persuaded that global warming is caused by human activities; the poll showed 62 percent believe that, down from 70 percent last year. However, that drop is not statistically significant, and may not have even been a drop, because the error margin for the sub-sample of independents is larger than the overall poll's error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points for each number.

The Trump administration seems eager to encourage doubts about climate change; Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt sent staffers an email this week telling them to use terms that downplay or cast doubt on human contribution to climate change, the Post's Dino Grandoni reports.

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