A new survey shows that 70% of Americans now accept that human-caused climate change is real. This figure, up from 63% just six months ago, shows that while global temperatures are on the rise, people’s agreement that climate change exists is rising even faster.
Climate change has been receiving national attention after a number of political initiatives, including President Obama’s recent proposal to cut carbon emissions. In addition, during his recent visit to the United States, Pope Francis exhorted politicians to unite against the devastating effects of climate change.
Rich donors in the fossil fuel industry have long waged an information war against climate science, providing millions of dollars to promote biased studies and false information. Greenpeace.org claims that the Koch brothers have spent $80 million towards climate denial.
Despite this committed effort to deceive the public into thinking that climate change is in fact controversial, it is encouraging to know that the American people are no longer having it. Although public opinion still lags behind the overwhelming consensus of over 90% of scientists regarding climate change, a majority of people of both party affiliations now agree with the scientists.
The recent surge in support of climate science is due in part to the message of Pope Francis. The survey claims that 15% of respondents said that the Pope’s visit helped convince them.
Besides the growing consensus of world leaders, climate change is beginning to hit close to home for more and more Americans. In addition to the recent flooding in South Carolina, the New York Times reports that global warming has intensified the drought in California. It may also contribute to the increased prevalence of wildfires in the western United States.
With all of these changes going on, even the Koch brothers can’t trick people into thinking that nothing is happening.
Studies show that the American people overwhelmingly support science and science literacy. A recent online poll claims that over 87% of people from both parties support politicians who know science. But as the American public is starting to embrace science more and more, the Republican party continues to position itself as the anti-science party.
While the Republican debates have shown the GOP’s utter disregard for factual accuracy, the views of presidential candidates like Ben Carson, who is supposed to have advanced medical training, are incredibly anti-scientific. Carson, like many other Republican candidates, appears to support a fundamentalist ideology, and holds accepted science like evolution to be an article of faith.
The views of the scientific community, and of the public at large, are rapidly coming to the consensus that human-caused climate change is an urgent problem in need of real solutions. It’s time for the Republicans to realize that you can’t just buy off Mother Nature.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.