Can Climate Science Be Rendered Conservative-Friendly?

It’s not as obvious as it might seem, David Roberts says.


One common criticism of the way climate science has been communicated over the last decade or so is that scientists and advocates have led with a liberal perspective: Here’s a big problem that we need to solve with government regulations and mandates. It didn’t help that climate change came to prominence via Al Gore, a partisan liberal long loathed on the right.

Such an approach, it is said, was guaranteed to incite opposition on the right. And sure enough: Those who deny the existence, anthropogenity, or severity of climate change are, for the most part, white, male, ideological conservatives. There are a great many exceptions, of course, and a great many gradations and varieties of skepticism, but the majority of overt denialists (or whatever you want to call them, I really don’t care) in America share that particular cultural identity.

There’s something to this critique — there’s no doubt that most of the scientists and advocates speaking out about the issue are left of center — but not as much as critics make out. As I argued the other day, climate was fated to become polarized by forces far larger than the communications strategies of climate hawks.

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