Climate Change Ranks As Most Divisive Political Issue in New Poll
A new poll identified climate change as the single most politically divisive issue among a list of hot-button issues including abortion, gun control, and the death penalty, says a recent Huffington Post article. The survey, conducted by University of New Hampshire sociology professor Lawrence Hamilton, revealed that climate change garnered gaps of 53 percentage points between Republicans and Democrats. Gun control generated a 44 percentage point gap between parties, and abortion, 35. Five hundred and sixty-eight New Hampshire residents participated in the poll.
What these results indicate, suggests The Huffington Post article, is that climate change is no longer just a scientific issue. Rather, it’s squarely cultural. And that means our strategies to solve the problem, too, need to be cultural. Giving people the science isn’t enough. Instead, communicators need to use a suite of strategies, including utilizing new messengers, connecting climate change to issues and values people already care about, and leading with solutions, in order to to gain traction on climate change. For tips on the best strategies to use to gain broader support for climate solutions, check out ecoAmerica‘s climate communication guide: Communicating on Climate: 13 Steps and Guiding Principles.
Kate Sheppard, Environment and Energy Editor at The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — Climate change remains a divisive political issue, with a significant percentage of Republicans saying they don’t believe the scientific consensus that man-made industrial emissions are accelerating the rise of global temperatures. But is it the most divisive political issue — more so than abortion, guns or evolution?
Apparently it is, according to new polling data from Lawrence Hamilton of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Mother Jones’ Chris Mooney highlighted the data in a piece on Tuesday, noting that distrust of science was much higher among people who self-identified as Tea Partiers than it was among traditional Republicans.
The most interesting part of the research, however, is the difference between all Republicans — a category that includes Tea Partiers as well as more traditional Republicans — and all Democrats on key policy issues. That research found a 53-point difference between Democrats and Republicans on climate change. That’s a bigger difference than on the issue of gun control (a 44-point gap) and on whether or not abortion should be legal (a 35-point gap). Strangely, on evolution, the gap is only 23 points, meaning there is a wider difference of opinion on an issue of pure science than on existential questions like “when does life begin” and “who created the universe.”
Image credit: Lawrence Hamilton via The Huffington Post