Conservatives, Liberals in Striking Divide over Global Warming

The GOP elephant and Democratic donkey

A recent Pew Research Center poll found the gap between liberals and conservatives on global warming issues has gotten wider. The survey shows 72 percent of respondents who said they were very concerned about the issue were Democrats.

Surprisingly, while 38 percent of respondents said the topic concerns them “a great deal,” 36 percent said the issue caused “some” concern. The study involved about 1,500 Americans from across the entire political spectrum.

One Pew researcher noted the divide on climate change is greater at the ends of the political spectrum. In other words, if you’re a conservative Republican you would have an entirely different version of the global warming story than your liberal Democrat counterparts.

36% of Conservatives Doubt Climate Change

But the two sides were the most divided on the origins of climate change. Nearly 80 percent of interviewed liberal Democrats said human activities triggered global warming. About 65 percent of moderate Democrats agree with the assertion.

By stark contrast, 85 percent of conservative GOP members don’t think humans are behind the phenomenon. What’s more 66 percent of Republicans with moderate views are in denial.

About 50 percent of Republicans believe natural phenomena caused global warming. Furthermore, 36 percent of conservatives think there’s no “solid evidence” that global warming even exists.

So it is no wonder, conservatives were more likely to ignore warnings of the dire impact of global warming on the planet’s future than liberals. Pew researchers learned just 16 percent of conservatives agreed climate change can boost risk of droughts and sea level rise.

Nearly 70 percent of liberal Democrats, however, think we should prepare for more droughts. Additionally, 67 percent believe there would be a visible sea level rise over the next years.

Overall, liberals displayed the most pessimistic views on climate change, but paradoxically they were the most optimistic about solutions. For instance, 76 percent think limiting power plant emissions could help greatly. By contrast, just 29 percent of conservatives think so.

Moreover, 71 percent of liberals think international treaties can help reduce toxic emissions and turn things around. Just 27 percent of conservatives agree. The two sides agreed, however, on the credibility of scientists. Most conservatives said they trusted scientists as long as they’re not climate scientists.

Trust in Scientists

For example, 68 percent of liberals trust climate scientists and their claims. By contrast, just 18 percent of conservatives shared their enthusiasm. Additionally, more than half of liberals think climate science can explain why the world is getting warmer. Just 11 percent of conservatives agree.

Pew investigators also found liberal respondents who are more scientifically literate were also more likely to associate climate change with human activity. Researchers assessed scientific literacy of their respondents via a 9-question test.

In Republicans’ case, scientific literacy doesn’t seem to affect their views on the issue. Up to 81 percent of Republicans rule out the human factor.

The center published the survey Monday. Researchers said they carried it from May 10 through June 6 with a 4 percent margin of error.
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