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Democrats and Republicans increasingly divided over global warming
Date:4/19/2011

parties increased from 11 percent in 2001 to 41 percent in 2010.

  • A similar trend held for people who identify as either conservative or liberal. When it came to believing that global warming has already begun, the gap between conservatives and liberals increased from about 18 percent in 2001 to 44 percent in 2010.

  • Among liberals and Democrats, having a college degree increases the likelihood of reporting beliefs consistent with the scientific consensus. Yet, among conservatives and Republicans, having a college degree often decreases the likelihood of reporting such beliefs.

    According to McCright, these results are consistent with the prevailing theory that explains how political polarization occurs in the general public. "In the last few decades political elites have become polarized on climate change. This has driven the political divide on this topic within the American public, as regular citizens have taken cues from ideological and party leaders they trust."

    McCright said the process has been magnified over the past decade by the emergence of media outlets where citizens can seek out news and ideas that reinforce their values and beliefs. He said citizens at either end of the political spectrum can get daily information albeit very different information on global warming that further strengthens their opposing beliefs about what is real.

    "Unfortunately, this is not a recipe for promoting a civil, science-based discussion on this very serious environmental problem," McCright said. "Like with the national discussion on health care, we don't even agree on what the basic facts are."

    This political polarization on climate change is not likely to go away in the near future, he added.

    "Many Republican Party leaders have moved further to the right since the 2008 presidential election. We've also seen attacks on climate science by Tea Party activists. It seems like climate change denial has b
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  • Contact: Andy Henion
    henion@msu.edu
    517-355-3294
    Michigan State University
    Source:Eurekalert  

    Page: 1 2 3

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