Climate Week NYC kicked off yesterday with the People’s Climate March. Hundreds of thousands joined the march to raise awareness before the United Nations Climate Summit this week.
Despite such actions, most Americans remain unconvinced that climate change is an awful, man-made disaster. According to the 2012 American National Election Study (ANES), so-called “climate change deniers” represent 19 percent of the population. Another half of Americans say that while global warming may be real, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing and/or something primarily caused by humans. Only about a third of Americans see global warming as both harmful and caused by humans.
Why the difference of opinion? First and foremost, perceptions of climate change are viewed through partisan lenses. Pew’s Carroll Doherty told NPR, “It’s one of the most partisan issues we track. Republicans just do not see it as an imminent problem for the United States. But Democrats by and large do.”
In the ANES, 41 percent of Democrats said that global warming is both harmful and caused by humans. Only 17 percent of Republicans said this. In contrast, 35 percent of Republicans said that global warming doesn’t even exist, a position that only nine percent of Democrats take.
Beliefs about climate change is also driven by religion. Specifically, how people view the role of science and the Bible. According to the ANES, people who view the Bible as accurate and authoritative are less likely to see climate change as a real problem.
But there are some interesting mixes between partisanship and religion.
Among Republicans, few see climate change as a real problem. Four-in-ten Republicans who take the Bible literally deny that global warming exists. This drops to 26 percent of those who see the Bible as a book written by men.
Few Democrats deny the reality of global warming, regardless of their religious beliefs. That said, views of the Bible shape how Democrats evaluate global warming. 57 percent of those who don’t believe the Bible is God’s word say that climate change is a man-made disaster; only 27 percent of literalists say this.
Together, partisanship and religion shape how we view climate change. There’s no denying it.