A new survey shows that while Republican congresscritters, presidential candidates and media mouthpieces have all hewn to the GOP’s climate denialism purity test, even the Republican rank-and-file have been moving in exactly the other direction. CS Monitor reports:
Three out of four U.S. voters favor regulating carbon dioxide as a greenhouse-gas pollutant, and a majority think global warming should be a priority for the president and Congress, a survey of American attitudes on climate and energy reported on Thursday.
The survey was released one day after Rolling Stone magazine published an interview with President Barack Obama in which he suggested that climate change would become a campaign issue this year.
In results often at odds with the political debate in Washington, the survey conducted for Yale and George Mason University also found most Americans would vote for a candidate who raised taxes on coal, oil and natural gas – fossil fuels that emit climate-warming carbon dioxide when burned – while cutting income tax, in a revenue-neutral “tax swap.”
…While Democrats are frequently perceived as being “greener” than Republicans and independents, the survey found sizable majorities of all three groups favored the tax swap and other environmentally friendly policies, said Anthony Leiserowitz of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.
For example, the survey found 75 percent of respondents support regulating carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas pollutant, which the Supreme Court ruled legal in 2007 and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has advocated.
But looking at the political breakdown on this question, 84 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of independents favor this regulation.
The survey found that even a slight majority of Republicans (52 percent) thought “global warming should be a very high, high or medium priority for the president and Congress”, joining 84 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents in that opinion.
Now sure, issues like the economy and jobs are still far more likely to be priorities for the American public – but it has to mean something that the denialists have lost the climate change debate so decisively. At the very least it should mean that the Beltway consensus that climate change related legislation on any effective scale is undoable should be changed. Obama has said he’ll be making climate change a campaign issue this cycle – leaving cynics like me wishing he’d said he’d make it an action item in his second term instead, because we know that what Obama campaigns on isn’t always what we get as policy. There is obviously more room to push policy on climate change than most thought was there – and the opportunity to rightly shame the Republican elite as playing obstructionist games with our grandchildren’s future if they keep to their pure doctrine even so.