The New York Times made it a front-page story: “EPA Chief Doubts Consensus View of Climate Change.”
Trump’s appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, stated (again) that carbon dioxide was not “a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” He added, “We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”
For those who follow clean air and water issues to protect the health of our families, Pruitt’s statement was no surprise. (It was insane that someone with his track record of suing the EPA and unreleased emails to fossil fuel powers, got confirmed in the first place.)
So where does that leave us?
The Trump environmental team may think that it’s okay to continually relitigate science. However, most Americans don’t.
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication updated their Opinion Map this month (incorporating findings from 2014-2016). This interactive mapping of the country is remarkable. America can be broken down by states, Congressional Districts, metro areas, and hyperlocal counties.
Currently, 70 percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening. (Good thing that this research isn’t on a federal website. It would have been disappeared by now!) Looking at the breakdown, the bar in gray represents those who either “refused to answer the question or said ‘I don’t know.’”
The data can be cross-indexed with four categories of questions posed to respondents. They were: Beliefs, Risk Perceptions, Policy Support, and Behaviors. This allows for comparisons and drill downs on disparities between locations.
For example, two different reactions to the statement: “Global warming will harm me personally.”
In Florida, where rising sea level is a viable concern, 41 percent agreed. In Wyoming, an inland state, only 29 percent concurred.
As a nation:
- 53 percent believe global warming is caused mostly by human activities
- 71 percent somewhat trust /strongly trust climate scientists about global warming
- 70 percent believe global warming will harm future generations
When it comes to policy, Americans do not want roll-backs of regulations.
- 82 percent support funding research into renewable energy sources
- 75 percent want to see regulation of carbon dioxide as a pollutant
- 69 percent want strict carbon dioxide limits on existing coal-fired power plants
Looking at individual states, it was not surprising to see that in New York, 79 percent of those polled wanted tough limits on coal-fired plants, while in Kentucky, 58 percent didn’t.
As I changed criteria and combinations, I saw that in the Washington, D.C., Arlington, Alexandria areas, numbers were consistently high in conjunction with climate concerns. For example, on the question about funding research into renewable energy sources, the answer came in at 86 percent. I wondered if there was any overlap with people working in the military and defense sectors, as they have been pointing to climate change as a cause for international instability and terrorism.
I have written previously about the disconnect between elected representatives and the viewpoints of their constituents on environmental issues and fossil fuels. Once again, the big takeaway is, “Follow the money!”
Check out the “Climate Denier 2016” Google doc that documents House and Senate members who don’t accept the science behind climate change. Then compare it to the contribution totals they have received from the coal, oil, and gas industries throughout their terms.
The scientist Albert Einstein said,
Tsk-tsking at the outrageousness of those who don’t want to deal with the climate crisis is getting the public nowhere.
Scott Pruitt is not going to change his mind anytime soon. But Senators and legislators who want to keep their jobs, may. And if they don’t, let’s remind them that if we ignore climate change, even their kids won’t get a second chance at developing a new brain, a functioning reproductive system, or a new set of lungs.
The Climate March is in April. Please join us in putting an end to this insanity.