Does Extreme Weather make you more Liberal? Or just More Human?

January 3, 2012


On the heels of a disastrous weather year in the USA, and with the long presidential campaign season looming, a new study finds that people who have endured extreme weather events are more likely to support environmental legislation, even if it means restricting individual freedoms.

The study was led by Ann Owen, a professor of economics at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.

Additionally, the authors write in the study that “our results are consistent with the idea that experiencing extreme weather causes individuals to become more aware of the issue of global warming, and increases their perception of the risk of global warming.”

The study findings are based on an Internet survey of about 2,500 Americans, conducted in August 2009 by Owen and three other Hamilton College economists.

Deniers are sure to fix on the “restricting individual freedoms” phrase.  Allow me to translate what that means in today’s bizarro-world looking-glass political lingo.

“Individual freedoms” no longer means freedom of speech, press, thought, worship, or assembly.  Those are airy-fairy concepts for pointy headed constitutional scholars.
“Laws restricting individual freedoms” means laws that prohibit tobacco addicts from blowing smoke in your baby’s face, Oil companies from poisoning your well, or laws that set a bar for energy efficient products or sustainable energy production, that make companies, and the communities they serve, more competitive, efficient, and prosperous.


3 Responses to “Does Extreme Weather make you more Liberal? Or just More Human?”

  1. Martin_Lack Says:

    “…people who have endured extreme weather events are more likely to support environmental legislation…”

    What kind of dimwit proposed this research? It’s like investigating whether country folk savaged by wild bears are in favour of unrestricted private gun ownership.

    • BlueRock Says:

      Science is not built on intuitive thinking. We need to understand how people respond to climate-related disasters in order to try and facilitate the change that is desperately needed.

      Similarly, your analogy that assumes everyone would support a gun-toting free-for-all because of a bear attack is far from the certainty you clearly believe it to be.

  2. […] Peter Sinclair’s excellent Climate Denial Crock of the Week, this story from USA Today explores the ramifications of a study about how people react to global […]

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