I have been avoiding English 200 since 1997... now 8 weeks in, it's time for my research proposal.

I chose the environment, so my question is: How can half of a population (the Republican Party) claim that the global climate crisis is fake, when only 3% of the research that it would agree with this, doesn't seem to be able to agree on anything.

Currently, my only reference is "Our Choice" by Al Gore, chapters 16 "Political obstacles".

My father (a climate change denier) and I both think that the driving force behind this controversial topic is money, but we completely disagree on where this money is coming from.

My bias going into this is that lobbyist and greedy manufacturers (corporate climate polluters) are the driving force. Morally I don't understand how Christians (the majority of the Republican Party) can take this stand when the estimated number of fatalities could be catastrophic.

I need more information on the topic because I am struggling to find acceptable references to cite.

Citation for statement "97% of scientist agree, while 3% can't agree on anything":

Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Green, S. A., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R., Way, R., Jacobs, P., & Skuce A., (2013). Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2) 024024.

From what I have see when Republican Politicians are cornered they agree that Climate Change is real. But the fact that they know it is real and then they deflect the blame in every direction so that they can keep the lobbyist and other constituents happy, irritates me even more.

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    Welcome to SE.Politics! It'd help if you could provide references for the figures that you cite above. – Nat Mar 5 '19 at 19:10
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    @divibisan Definitely related, but seems to be a different question. The prior question is about Republicans in the House/Senate, while this question's about Republicans in the general population. – Nat Mar 5 '19 at 19:16
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    @Nat If you read the answers, they discuss Republican ideology and the roots of climate change skepticism in the Republican party, which is really the only answer to either of these questions that wouldn't be speculation. While the wording of the question is different, the answers to that question will answer this question to the extent that an answer is possible here. – divibisan Mar 5 '19 at 19:23
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    I would suggest you look at sources that are actually given by Republicans. And you're also falling into a biased assumption that ~50% of the United States is Republican. It's not. At 42% more Americans identify as Independent than any other political party (Compared to 31% Democrats and 24% Republicans as of 2017) and that no organized political party has had such dominance since 2012. Additionally, both of the the two American Political Parties are Big Tent meaning not everyone agrees 100% on all issues. – hszmv Mar 5 '19 at 20:39
  • I voted to reopen. I think that the question this is a duplicate of is far too different; the motivations of a politician can be much different than the authentic beliefs of citizens, and there are many times in which a politician doesn't really believe what they are voting for. On a related note, I feel that the question this is supposedly a duplicate of doesn't have adequate answers at all; and doubly so, the answers to that question are not adequate or correct answers to this question. – John Mar 6 '19 at 18:43
  • Accepting that climate change is real and acting on this understanding would force serious changes to one's lifestyle, especially if one has notions of global justice and fairness.
    If the industrialized nations were to cut their environmental damage to their per capita share of what our planet can bear, they would be forced to give up their SUVs, air conditioners, 1,000 square foot suburban homes, supermarkets with 24/7 totally unblemished and fresh fruits and vegetables, and daily meat consumption. They don't want that.
    (Personally I believe the majority scientific view, and I do many little things to reduce my footprint, but when all is added up I fall far short of a sustainable goal. I sit in a well-heated flat as I write this, eat food out of plastic-wrapped packages, and while I cycle to work that's another big, energy-hungry office building.)
  • Accepting that climate change is real would force people with more literal interpretations of the Bible to question their faith.
    Not only would they have to accept that Earth is billions of years old, they'd have to accept that Man is capable of totally wrecking God's creation, no matter how faithful Man is to scripture. People in many parts of the world (not just in the Middle East) are simply not prepared to do that.
    (Follow-up, there are plenty of faithful Christians who believe in peace, justice, and the the preservation of God's creation, as the religious branch of the environmentalist movement puts it. I'm not talking about those, obviously.)
  • In a country with an entrenched two-party system, admitting that one's party is wrong on any one major issue could bring that side into miscredit, and see the party defeated on many other unrelated issues. So Republicans who accept that climate change is real might stick with the climate change deniers to preserve their family values -- who knows where the Democrats will stop if they ever get started?
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    Why would accepting that "Man is capable of totally wrecking God's creation" cause someone who believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible to question their faith? – Null Mar 5 '19 at 19:40
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    @Null, there is the Book of Revelation, and different opinion on just how literal it is to be taken. If one believes that Christ will come back really soon, things won't matter afterwards. – o.m. Mar 5 '19 at 19:57
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    How does creationism or interpretation scripture even start to figure into this? – DevSolar Mar 5 '19 at 21:59
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    @DevSolar Literalists believe there's only one flood (Noah's flood), and therefore the sea levels can't rise again. – Andrew Grimm Mar 5 '19 at 22:11
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    @DevSolar, there is an exact schedule how the world is supposed to end, scrolls and seals and horsemen, and man-made climate change doesn't fit into the sequence. – o.m. Mar 6 '19 at 5:35

The public's opinion on climate science is a bi-product of what they are told by their party politicians, lobby groups, industry think tanks, and influence campaigns.

Who Is Behind the Climate Denial Effort
From the wiki entry on climate change denial:

The campaign to undermine public trust in climate science has been described as a "denial machine" organized by industrial, political and ideological interests, and supported by conservative media and skeptical bloggers to manufacture uncertainty about global warming.

This section states that climate denial lobbying groups include FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity (backed by the Koch Brothers), the Heritage Foundation, Marshall Institute, Cato Institute, and the American Enterprise Institute.

Former tobacco industry consultant R.J. Reynolds chaired groups such as the Science and Environmental Policy Project and the George C. Marshall Institute in service of the effort to downplay global warming.

Another influence group founded by the tobacco lobby is The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, which campaigns against measures to combat global warming. According to George Monbiot of The Guardian, the TASSC "has done more damage to the campaign to halt [climate change] than any other body."

The Guardian claims that Exxon funded a disinformation campaigned aimed at discrediting scientists and blocking government efforts to fight climate change for more than 50 years.

According to environmental sociologist Robert Brulle, the largest-funded organization to counter climate science was American Enterprise Institute; and the largest donors were Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund.

Global Climate Coalition, one of the lobby groups that fought against the Kyoto Protocol, was a coalition of U.S. businesses financed by large corporations and trade groups from the oil, coal, and auto industries.

The New York Times writes that the oil, coal, and utility industries spent $500 million between January 2009 and June 2010 lobbying in opposition to legislation to address climate change.

It has also been claimed that the Republican Party in the United States is unique in denying anthropogenic climate change among conservative political parties across the Western world. It has also been suggested that only about 3% of Republican members of Congress accept the prevailing scientific conclusion that global warming is real and man-made (which is about the inverse of how many highly-published climate science experts accept this conclusion).

Who Benefits Financially
The entities that have a vested interest in climate change denial are large carbon emitters like coal power plants, large oil companies, auto companies that still produce internal combustion engines, and to a lesser extent, petrochemical companies (they are environmental polluters, but not always large carbon emitters, but they sometimes emit other powerful greenhouse gases as well). They stand to make more money if they aren't impeded by clean energy policy, so they are incentivized to use some of their money to lobby conservative politicians to oppose environmental regulation and push climate denial ideology; and to use some of their money to conduct social media influence campaigns to deny climate change.

Burying Research
In the 1970's, Exxon buried its research findings which concluded the reality of climate change. Gizmodo also reports that in the 70's and 80's, oil companies affiliated with the American Petroleum Institute had research concluding the reality of climate change, and that these entities include Exxon, Mobil, Amoco, Phillips, Texaco, Shell, Sunoco, Sohio, and Standard Oil of California and Gulf Oils (the predecessors to Chevron).

Related to dishonest research, Willie Soon is a popular scientist among climate deniers who had failed to disclose conflicts of interest in at least 11 scientific papers since 2008, and had received a total of $1.25 million from ExxonMobil, Southern Company, and the American Petroleum Institute (Koch brothers group).


First of all, the 97% statistic that gets thrown around often has been debated for years (https://www.forbes.com/sites/uhenergy/2016/12/14/fact-checking-the-97-consensus-on-anthropogenic-climate-change/#5b207cad1157)

One can answer "yes" to the question "do you believe in climate change", but still answer "no" to the question "do you believe humans are causing climate change". So, it's important to clarify that to people you discuss it with, as the questions get conflated so often.

It's not that they don't believe the Earth's climate is changing, it's that they either:

A. don't believe the alarmist predictions are accurate enough to warrant a fundamental and massive overhaul of culture for something we don't know will even change anything. They say that if the future predictions vary so much, how will we know what we're doing is even working?

B. don't believe that humans are causing the climate to change (since the Earth has gone through many climate fluctuations in its lifetime)

C. point out that all the methods of reducing CO2 production (taxes, etc) suspiciously align with their political opponents' agenda, so they refuse to cooperate on that point alone

On a side note, yes, there are silly people who flat out deny the Earth's climate is changing at all, but I wouldn't say all of the Republican party is representative of those people.

Another side note, the argument that Republicans are "pro-pollution corporatists" has no basis in fact. Both Democrats and Republicans run corporations that emit smog/particulates, and not all "pollution" causes climate change.

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    Note that the 97% is from a survey of about 10,000 people, of which over 4,000 responded (40%), from which a subgroup of 77 people (2% of those responded) was selected, of which 75 (97%) agreed to those questions. Cherry picking at its finest! – Sjoerd Mar 6 '19 at 17:08
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    @Sjoerd : even if the subsetting was done in the way you describe, this is not cherry-picking. – Evargalo Aug 17 '20 at 8:40
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    @Sjoerd - links please? Your claim about where the number came from sounds entirely made up, probably by a Fox News talking head. Keep in mind also that if one looks at the research that has been published, 0% refutes human-caused accelerated climate change via global warming. – PoloHoleSet Aug 17 '20 at 18:36
  • @PoloHoleSet Dragging in hundreds of exhibits and having you "no true Scotsman" them. Yeah, that would be fun. Forbes and The Guardian have both published articles debunking this. The clincher was when well-known climate-skeptics objected that the article listed their journal articles as "pro" and were told that the opinion of skeptics on what was research was not valuable. – puppetsock Aug 18 '20 at 21:52
  • @puppetsock - I'm simply asking for something that validates the claim of the source of the 97% claim as matching Sjoerd's claim or a single, partial-participation survey, so I can look at that survey, if that is the actual source. That's not asking him to prove it, himself, or to drag in tons of exhibits. It's a phony claim, and a 30 second Google search can show that it's not what he claims, but I'm giving him the opportunity to back up his own claims. Feel free to offer your own links to those articles, and to your "clincher." – PoloHoleSet Aug 21 '20 at 15:05

The basic problem here is that you're looking at it as a matter of rational thinking, when it is a matter of belief. Belief has nothing to do with evidence. Consider for instance the number of Christians* who believe that the Genesis creation story is literally true (38% of Americans, per Gallup: https://news.gallup.com/poll/210956/belief-creationist-view-humans-new-low.aspx ) despite endless scientific evidence to the contrary. Or the people who believe the moon landings were a hoax, or that the Earth is flat: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/16/us/flat-earth-conference-conspiracy-theories-scli-intl/index.html Or for an example currently in the news, the anti-vaxers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/vaccine_hesitancy

*I don't mean to pick on Christians in particular, so feel free to insert equivalent remarks about your religion of choice here.

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    Upvoted because Climate Change itself is a belief. – Sjoerd Mar 6 '19 at 17:06
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    @Sjoerd: No, global warming ("climate change" is weasel-wording) is not a belief, it is supported by over a century of science. – jamesqf Mar 7 '19 at 0:37
  • @jamesqf - Unhiding the links doesn't necessarily make them any safer. Consider this link to google: https://www.google.com. That said, this is your answer and if you prefer this style, I have no objection. – Bobson Aug 17 '20 at 19:03
  • @Bobson: Sure, but something like that takes work, and a certain degree of malevolence. A hidden URL could be done with purely innocent intent, yet if I follow it, it could be a YouTube video, something that plays audio... – jamesqf Aug 18 '20 at 15:42

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