A new study by a DePauw University political science professor claims that those who do not believe in climate change are more likely to hold racist views.
Study author Salil Benegal arrived at this conclusion by examining data from Pew Research and the American National Election Studies, both of which conduct a sample of interviews after each US presidential election.
Since 1960, the latter has conducted a “racial resentment” (against African-Americans) survey which asks participants to rate from 1 to 5 “how much they agreed or disagreed with [the following] four statements”:
Irish, Italians, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without any special favors.
Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for Blacks to work their way out of the lower class.
Over the past few years, Blacks have gotten less than they deserve.
It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough. If Blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites.
A former chemistry major, Sierra reports Benegal said after he graduated that he “was more interested in how scientific findings were communicated and particularly why public mistrust of scientists was so high in the United States relative to other parts of the world.”
Climate change “seemed like a perfect way” to investigate this.
When Benegal looked at the Pew data, he found that the percentage of white Americans who said that they believed climate change is a very serious problem declined during the Obama administration. When he looked at the ANES data, he found that white Republicans who scored at the highest level for racial resentment were over three times as likely to disagree with the statement that climate change was real than white Republicans who tested at the lowest level of the scale. A low-resentment white Republican had a 57 percent chance of disagreeing with the statement that climate change is caused by humans, while their high-resentment equivalent was 84 percent likely to do the same thing. …
The gap between the two parties was once not so large. Gallup polls from the late 1990s show a small gap between Democrats and Republicans in their responses to climate change. Today Democratic voters are almost twice as likely as Republicans to agree with the scientific consensus on climate change, possibly because Republican politicians are under greater pressure from donors, and other Republicans, not to acknowledge its existence.
Or, perhaps it’s because Republicans and conservatives increasingly disagree with Democratic/progressive remedies for the problem, such a massive tax increases and other measures which (drastically) raise costs for average citizens?
The prof says “I’m not trying to make a claim in the study that race is the single most important or necessarily a massive component of all environmental attitudes. But it’s a significant thing that we should be looking out for.”
IMAGE: Max Sparber/Flickr