U.S. sociologist tracks the politics of climate change

April 29, 2013 at 4:26 PM
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EAST LANSING, Mich., April 29 (UPI) -- Americans who believe scientists on global warming are more likely to support government action on emissions regardless of party affiliation, a study says.

However, Michigan State University sociologist Aaron M. McCright said a political schism remains on the existence of climate change despite a scientific consensus that global warming is real.

"The more people believe scientists agree about climate change, the more willing they are to support government action, even when their party affiliation is taken into account," McCright said in a university release Monday.

"But there is still a political split on levels of perceived scientific agreement, in that fewer Republicans and conservatives than Democrats and liberals believe there is a scientific consensus."

McCright say the results of a Gallup survey of 1,024 adults asking their views on climate change reaffirm the success of what he calls the "denial machine" -- an organized movement to undercut the scientific reality of climate change during the past two decades.

The first step in dealing with climate change, he said, is getting both sides of the political spectrum to accept the scientific consensus.

That would clear the way for policymakers to undertake the task of coming up with an approach to combat it, an effort that should involve both government and industry, he said.

"Certainly we can't solve all our problems with global warming through government regulations -- in fact, for some problems, government regulations might make it worse," McCright said. "And so we need a combination of market-based solutions and government regulations."

The study by McCright, Riley Dunlap of Oklahoma State University and Chenyang Xiao of American University has been published in the journal Climate Change.

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