Climate in the Campaign. Bring it On.

April 27, 2012

Bottom line: Climate denial wins the “Obama was born in Kenya” crowd.  Nobody else.

Does Obama’s recent reference to climate as a campaign issue mean he’s getting it too?


The Yale-George Mason University poll being released Thursday found that 76% of Americans support regulating carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas pollutant and that two-thirds believe the U.S. should pursue policies to reduce its carbon footprint.

Yale/George Mason Poll:

A large majority of Americans believe that global warming made several high profile extreme weather events worse, including the unusually warm winter of December 2011 and January 2012 (72%), record high summer temperatures in the U.S. in 2011 (70%), the drought in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 (69%), record snowfall in the U.S. in 2010 and 2011 (61%), the Mississippi River floods in the spring of 2011 (63%), and Hurricane Irene (59%).


poll .. shows that a large majority of Americans believe that this year’s unusually warm winter, last year’s blistering summer and some other weather disasters were probably made worse by global warming. And by a 2-to-1 margin, the public says the weather has been getting worse, rather than better, in recent years.

The survey, the most detailed to date on the public response to weather extremes, comes atop other polling showing a recent uptick in concern about climate change. Read together, the polls suggest that direct experience of erratic weather may be convincing some people that the problem is no longer just a vague and distant threat.

 Climate Progress:

I know you’ve heard the established wisdom: The climate bill failed in large part because it lacked public support.

That was never true, as over a dozen polls we reported on in the last 3 years make clear (see them here and below). But that myth became popular because it suited the narrative of both the deniers and do-little centrist crowd and their enablers in the media.

What’s amazing is that even though essentially none of the major national “influencers” in the public arena — the President, Congress, media and so on — has been using their bully pulpit to talk about mandatory controls on carbon dioxide pollution for almost two years now, the public still supports it overwhelmingly.  A full 65% of Americans support “imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions/other greenhouse gases.”

S.L. Otto in the HuffPost:

In order to secure the nomination, Mitt Romney, who once supported cap and trade, has reversed his position and now says that

My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.

This is demonstrably false, and what’s more, the American public believe it’s false. Obama has an opportunity to use it as a significant wedge issue to shave votes away from Romney among moderate Republicans and Independents who believe science is the best basis for public policy. Romney appears to be trapped in Obama’s message box on it: if he vascillates again he will alienate far right supporters who believe climate change is all a vast hoax, and will be easily labeled a flip-flop-flipper. If he doesn’t, he stands to lose mainstream centrist voters to Obama.

It is probably not a coincidence that the Koch brothers, owners of petro-giant Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in America, have pledged $60 million to defeat Obama. This signals that climate disinformation is likely to become a major part of the Republican-aligned presidential effort in the months to come. The Koch brothers have frequently been cited as donors to climate denial propaganda outfits like the Heartland Institute.

This means we will be likely to see more efforts like the recent attacks on NASA and the EPA as an agenda of deep environmental deregulation becomes a central campaign battleground.


“American voters, both Democrats and Republicans, are unified in backing prompt EPA action on the clean air rules,” said Ceres president Mindy Lubber. “Regardless of affiliation, voters want a healthy environment and an end to foot-dragging to upgrade dirty power plants.  Despite the rhetoric in Washington, clean air is not a partisan issue among Americans, and Congress would do well to take notice.”

“Although some in Congress oppose these rules, the level of support from Republican voters is surprisingly strong,” said Greg Strimple of GS Strategy Group, a Republican pollster who jointly conducted the research. “The research clearly demonstrates Republican voters are willing to support new rules to reduce harmful emissions in order to improve public health.  Republicans like clean air, too.”

6 Responses to “Climate in the Campaign. Bring it On.”

  1. omnologos Says:

    Haven’t we been here before

    “President-elect Barack Obama, in strongly-worded remarks to a gathering of governors and foreign officials on Tuesday, said he had no intention of softening or delaying his aggressive targets for reducing emissions that cause the warming of the planet.

    (November 18, 2008)

  2. I met two great salt-of-the-earth type road contractors last night in Van Horn, TX. They experience changing weather patterns up close and personal, and had developed an “unusual” theory to explain why the climate is changing. After three hours of drinking beer in a local tavern, they understand climate science basics. We parted good friends by bridging our differences through respectful conversation. Beer helps.

  3. Martin Lack Says:

    This is symptomatic of the USA’s problem. The majority of electors recognise that climate change is a problem that needs appropriate environmental regulation imposed on industries that will otherwise pursue profit not protection.

    Unfortunately for the USA (and everyone else – because no Western democracy has cracked this), the problem is that the electorate do not determine the nature and direction of their government, big business does.

    Until we get government of the people for the people by the people, our environment will be at risk. At the moment, we have generally got government of the people by the money for the profit. Furthermore, those that profit are the most insulated from the effects of the damage their policy is doing; whereas those that will fair the worst are also the least able to cope.

    This is what is so reprehensible about climate change denial.

  4. danolner Says:

    Omno guy has a point. What does it say that BO remained pretty much silent about climate change after getting elected but, come campaign season, he’s suddenly all fired up about it (well, according to one article in Rolling Stone… we shall see)? Were there, actually, any strategically good reasons to have remained so quiet? Did it help Obama get anything done in congress he otherwise might have failed to?

    It’d be nice to believe it, but – well, he is a politician after all. I think some of us, including myself, sort of forget that about him.

  5. astrostevo Says:

    What politicans say is one thing. What they actually end up *doing* is much more important and too often something else again.

    Obama may pay Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating (HIRGO) as I call it lip service but what has he done?

    I was a big Obama fan – once. I feel very disappointed by him.

    “Cap’n’trade” bills are effectively dead & abandoned aren’t they?

    I’d like to see some politician or political party promote Hanson’s “fee-and- Dividend” plan mentioned in his book.

    I’d like a lot more alternatives to be proposed and tested and implemented ASAP. I don’t see anyone actually doing that.

    Obama is better than the alternative(s?) but, yeah, I’m not happy with him and I don’t think he’s doing anywhere near enough here.

  6. […] recent years, those orders have been to increasingly disrupt America’s widely popular move to renewable energy, which is clearly seen as a threat (mongrelization of the energy system?) […]

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