There may be other things we see as more important but the climate is always there as it overachieves all.
In these times of pandemic, inflation and war, climate change is raising its hand for attention. Three decades ago, when climate gained steam as an issue, there were few partisan edges to it. Leaders from both parties expressed concern. Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1992 signed the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, making him the first U.S. president to raise climate change as a major issue. Then, something happened: Climate change fell into the snake pit of partisanship. Former Democratic Vice President Al Gore’s award-winning film in 2006, “An Inconvenient Truth,” skillfully put the climate issue front and center — but also sharpened its political edges. Republicans, worried about the economic dangers of more federal regulations, retreated. Democrats, fearing environmental catastrophe, dug in. Common ground disappeared. In recent years, the issue became weighted down by its own complexities. Possible solutions became political targets. Slogans substituted for intelligent discussion. Skeptics not only found reasons to oppose climate change initiatives, they found refuge in denying there even was a problem. A wide-ranging climate agenda became too heavy of a lift for America’s feeble political process to carry. Now that the issue is spotlighted, where does the public stand?theadvocate.com
I never understood the partisanship as my father used to say, it rains on the just and unjust. Doiwn here tat means it floods on both republicans and democrats. In the last flooding I would venture to guess that more republicans flooded out than democrats yet it is an issue the democrats push and the republicans push against.
Voters see climate as an important matter, but not the most critical. The latest Quinnipiac poll asked voters to pick the most urgent issue facing the country, and only 6% chose climate change. A recent Economist/YouGov poll, however, found that two-thirds of the electorate believes climate change is an important issue — a view held more by Democrats (90%) than Republicans (38%) and independents (69%). There are also gender and generational gaps in evidence: Women more than men (73% vs. 61%), and 18- to 29-year-olds more than those 65 and older (76% vs. 58%), see climate as an important issue. What’s causing climate change? The latest Economist/YouGov survey found that 56% of voters believe it’s the result of human activity and 27% attributed it to other factors. Only 7% said they believe the climate is not changing. How immediate is the problem? Gallup’s March survey found that 59% of Americans believe the effects of climate change have already begun. An additional 10% expect to see effects in their lifetime and another 19% expect effects further into the future. Only one out of ten Americans don’t think there will ever be any effects.
So it is there and we need solutions.
While there is substantial public concern, climate change is less pressing to many Americans than other, more specific, environmental threats. Fifty-seven percent said they worry a “great deal” about pollution of drinking water, for example, while only 43% said the same about climate change. What about solutions? According to the Pew Research Center’s January survey, 69% of the populace favors the U.S. taking steps to become carbon neutral by 2050 — but 67% also favor using a mix of fossil fuels along with renewables. In fact, only 31% think fossil fuels should be phased out completely. While 63% of liberal Democrats support a full phase-out, only 6% of conservative Republicans do. The partisan divide is apparent on proposed remedies: 87% of Democrats favor encouraging wind and solar power, while 54% of Republicans do; 70% of Democrats favor encouraging the use of electric vehicles, while 30% of Republicans do. Republicans, more than Democrats, are willing to encourage the use of nuclear power (42% vs. 32%), oil and gas drilling (51% vs. 19%) and coal mining (32% vs. 11%). Gallup reported big majorities favoring a range of actions, including: tax credits for clean energy; incentives to promote wind, solar and nuclear power; higher fuel standards for cars, trucks and buses; limiting release of methane in natural gas production; tax credits for electric vehicles; and adding more electric charging stations.
Climate change is a consequential issue that we have problems fixing.
To be sure, climate change is a consequential issue to most Americans, but there are limits to how far they will go to combat it. While U.S. voters want to incentivize and encourage, they’re less likely to force and mandate. They also want solutions to work. In the days ahead, Congress will consider the Biden administration’s $369 billion climate change package. It will do it smack in the middle of the midterm elections — giving public opinion a chance to express itself.
As noted there is hope on the horizon if two democratic senators come on board. That is another problem facing solutions to the problem.