Further evidence that climate-change denialism is about cultural politics and not about science
A few months ago, I advanced THIS ARGUMENT:
It occurs to me that both sides in the debate over global warming have one thing in common: Hardly anybody really wants it to be true that climate-change trends pose a significant threat to our way of life.
But global-warming deniers want it to be untrue for reasons that are fundamentally different from mine, at least in one respect: They don’t just want to avoid the havoc of environmental catastrophe. They find us exponents of mainstream scientific theories on climate change repugnant, and they want us to be disgraced. They have a visceral dislike for the pointy-headed academic types and political liberals who warn of the consequences of not curbing our spewing of greenhouses into the atmosphere. They simply refuse to believe that people like me might be right about this stuff.
Today, I give you THIS:
Why do conservatives, who should have a natural inclination toward conservation, have a beef with energy efficiency? It could be tied to the political polarization of the climate change debate.
A study out Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined attitudes about energy efficiency in liberals and conservatives, and found that promoting energy-efficient products and services on the basis of their environmental benefits actually turned conservatives off from picking them. The researchers first quizzed participants on how much they value various benefits of energy efficiency, including reducing carbon emissions, reducing foreign oil dependence, and reducing how much consumers pay for energy; cutting emissions appealed to conservatives the least.
The study then presented participants with a real-world choice: With a fixed amount of money in their wallet, respondents had to “buy” either an old-school lightbulb or an efficient compact florescent bulb (CFL)… Both bulbs were labeled with basic hard data on their energy use, but without a translation of that into climate pros and cons. When the bulbs cost the same, and even when the CFL cost more, conservatives and liberals were equally likely to buy the efficient bulb. But slap a message on the CFL’s packaging that says “Protect the Environment,” and “we saw a significant drop-off in more politically moderates and conservatives choosing that option,” said study author Dena Gromet, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
Andrew Sullivan reacts to the foregoing THUSLY:
This is really a form of tribal nihilism. One party has become entirely about a posture, not a set of feasible policies. I can see no reason whatever that conservatism must mean destroying the environment – or refusing to do even small ameliorative things that can help. There should be a robust conservative critique of liberal approaches to climate change, but the point is to get a better grip on slowing that change and more effectively protecting the environment by conservative ideas and principles. Snark is not a policy, although it may be a successful talk radio gimmick.
Kevin Drum says THIS:
On the right, both climate change and questions about global limits on oil production have exited the realm of empirical debate and become full-blown fronts in the culture wars. You’re required to mock them regardless of whether it makes any sense. And it’s weird as hell. I mean, why would you disparage development of renewable energy? If humans are the ultimate creators, why not create innovative new sources of renewable energy instead of digging up every last fluid ounce of oil on the planet?