Why the Politics of Climate Change Matter

Suzy Khimm reports on a new study that demonstrates politicians affect the way that Americans view the issue of climate change more than almost anything else, including news, weather, or science.
February 13, 2012, 8am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Politicians often say they listen to the opinions of their constituents to make their policy decisions, however what happens when opinions are formed in reverse? Khimm writes about the findings of a new paper in the journal Climatic Change that concluded that votes on environmental legislation, and specifically by the GOP, "have a particularly outsized effect" on public opinion about climate change.

"'In an extremely partisan environment, Republican votes against environmental bills legitimate public opinion opposed to action on climate change,' the authors write. 'When the Republicans increase voting support for environmental bills, it reduces partisanship and increases public support for actions to address climate change.'"

"Interestingly, the paper adds, Democratic support for environmental legislation 'had no significant effect on public concern,' probably because their positions have remained mostly constant in recent years."

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Published on Thursday, February 9, 2012 in The Washington Post
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