Climate Expert Shares Perspective on US Political Polarization Around Climate Change

Indiana University
24-May-2019 4:00 PM EDT, by Indiana University

Newswise — A report on “Politics and Global Warming” recently released by the Yale Climate Communication Center has revealed climate change as the most polarizing political issue dividing Americans. Of 29 issues surveyed, conservative Republicans indicated global warming as their least important voting issue, while liberal Democrats ranked it as their third most important. The gap is now greater than it is on issues such as abortion and gun control.

Gabriel Filippelli, an earth sciences professor at IUPUI and member of Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute, a part of IU’s Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative, is available to comment on the divide.

“The politicization of climate change seems to stem from a strange combination of very divergent media consumption patterns for each group,” Filippelli said. “The divide is further exacerbated by a misunderstanding of what settled science is. For climate change, there is no question among scientists that carbon acts as a warming gas in the atmosphere and that more of it means more heat is trapped on the planet.

“So is belief in facts and science political? Of course, it shouldn't be, but that is what we are seeing across the board. Indeed, the mantle of ‘climate skeptic’ has been proudly donned by a number of high-profile media influencers who seed doubt in the clear science behind climate change.

“Many do not realize that the scientific process dictates that scientists themselves be the most critical skeptics of data. After decades of critical study and scrutiny, climate change has become settled science. That’s true whether you happen to be a Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal.”

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