MIT Technology Review:

erry Taylor believes he can change the minds of conservative climate skeptics. After all, he helped plant the doubts for many in the first place.

Taylor spent years as a professional climate denier at the Cato Institute, arguing against climate science, regulations, and treaties in op-eds, speeches, and media appearances. But his perspective slowly began to change around the turn of the century, driven by the arguments of several economists and legal scholars laying out the long-tail risks of global warming.

Now he’s president of the Niskanen Center, a libertarian-leaning Washington, DC, think tank he founded in 2014. He and his colleagues there are trying to build support for the passage of an aggressive federal carbon tax, through discussions with Washington insiders, with a particular focus on Republican legislators and their staff.

Lesson 1: Pick the right targets

Political scientists consistently find that mass opinion doesn’t drive the policy debate so much as the other way around. Partisan divides emerge first among “elites,” including influential advocacy groups, high-profile commentators, and politicians, says Megan Mullin, an associate professor of environmental politics at Duke University.

They, in turn, set the terms of debate in the public mind, spreading the parties’ views through tested and refined sound bites in media appearances, editorials, social media, and other forums.

For the most part, people first align themselves with groups, often political parties, that appeal to them on the basis of their own experiences, demographics, and social networks. They then entrust the recognized leaders of their self-selected tribe to sort out the details of dense policy and science for them, while vigorously rejecting arguments that seem to oppose their ideologies—in part because such arguments also effectively attack their identity.

In fact, political predisposition is by far the most influential factor in determining a person’s “perceptions and attitudes about climate change,” noted Mullin and Patrick Egan, an associate professor of politics at New York University, in a 2017 analysis in the Annual Review of Political Science.

In many ways, the climate-change debate is ensnared in the culture wars that have consumed US politics over the last three decades.

“Positions on climate change have become symbols of whose side you are on in a cultural conflict divorced from science,” Dan Kahan, a Yale professor of law and psychology who has closely studied this issue, has said.

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Above, creative explanation of the Coriolis effect from the Bell Telephone Science hour, 1958.

Co·ri·o·lis ef·fect
ˌkôrēˈōləs iˌfekt
  1. an effect whereby a mass moving in a rotating system experiences a force (the Coriolis force ) acting perpendicular to the direction of motion and to the axis of rotation. On the earth, the effect tends to deflect moving objects to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern and is important in the formation of cyclonic weather systems.

Below, more contemporary take from PBS. Which works best?

Description:

The battle between ​evangelical Christians in the US over whether climate change is a call to protect the Earth, the work of God to be welcomed, or doesn’t exist at all.  Evangelicals in the US have traditionally been the bedrock of conservative politics, including on climate change. But a loud debate is happening across the country, with some Christians protesting in the name of protecting the Earth, seeing it as a duty to be done in God’s name. ​One group has even built a chapel in the way of a pipeline and a radical pastor encourages his flock to put themselves in the way of the diggers. A firm supporter of Trump criss-crosses the country promoting solar power.

But there’s still the traditional resistance – a climate scientist who denies the world is warming and a preacher in Florida who sees the fact he was flooded out as a good sign of divine presence. With stories from across the country featuring pastors and churchgoers, and showing conflict between generations, races and classes, could it be a surprising section of Christian Americans who might show hope for the country’s attitude to climate change?

FiveThirtyEight.com:

After dominating much of American politics for the past 40 years, white evangelical Protestants are now facing a sharp decline. Nearly one-third of white Americans raised in evangelical Christian households leave their childhood faith.2 About 60 percent of those who leave end up joining another faith tradition, while 40 percent give up on religion altogether. The rates of disaffiliation are even higher among young adults: 39 percent of those raised evangelical Christian no longer identify as such in adulthood. And while there is always a good deal of churn in the religious marketplace — people both entering and leaving faith traditions — recent findingssuggest that membership losses among white evangelical Protestants are not being offset by gains.

As a result, the white evangelical Protestant population in the U.S. has fallen over the past decade, dropping from 23 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2016. But equally troubling for those concerned about the vitality of evangelical Christianity, white evangelical Protestants are aging. Today, 62 percent of white evangelical Protestants are at least 50 years old. In 1987, fewer than half (46 percent) were. The median age of white evangelical Protestants today is 55.

Below – No Religion needed to appreciate climate as a moral issue.

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Terrible news for a good name.

I hate these bastards.

From NBC news on the first Earth Day.