It is incomprehensible that the majority of politicians on the right have expressed their skepticism and denial towards global warming. Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rand Paul both claim that because the climate “always changes,” humans’ activity does not affect climate at all. Senator Ted Cruz went further and argued over the last 15 years, “there has been no recorded warming.”  

The politics from the right has a significant impact on public opinion on the climate issue. Despite the fact that over 97 percent of scientists support the conclusion that climate change is real and manmade, there is a startling number of nearly 50 percent skeptics on this matter.

The Root of Doubt

The media

One of the main contributors to this institutional skepticism is the media coverage on the issue. According to the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of Americans think the media does not treat this threat “seriously enough.’ Often times, news outlets would invite one scientist to debate one on one with another skeptic. This creates an implication towards the viewers that climate change is still a divisive and debatable discussion. The interviews usually result in two guests shouting at each other, which blurs the line of a definite conclusion and confuses the viewers. If we want to have a genuine debate, it is more reasonable to invite ninety-seven to argue against two to three skeptics. That is the only proportion that can effectively convince people on the urgency of climate change.

The lawmakers

Politicians have been orchestrating their loudest criticism. Republican leaders have raised doubts, denied factual numbers, and discredited scientists publicly over the last few years. With respect to their profession, their refutation against climate change should not be seriously considered. Unfortunately, we are living in the world where everything is involved with politics. Therefore, political preference is such a capable tool to influence one’s conception on the climate issue. Pew Research Center has found that 79 percent of liberal Democrats believe global warming is manmade. On the contrary, 36 percent of conservative Republicans refuse the evidence of the warming climate, and 48 percent attribute it to “natural disasters.” The motivation behind all of this skepticism from the right is deeply problematic. Their campaigns’ donors are notorious fossil fuel companies; some are big names like Charles D. and David H.Koch – billionaires “who operate 4,000 miles of pipelines that move crude oil”. Big coal and oil companies will continue sending their lobbyist to provide right-wing politicians with unsubstantial scientific arguments. Representatives of coal states such as Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming certainly have promised their “favored” constituents that no environmental regulations shall be passed under their leadership.  

The President

Mr. Trump has been one of the most outspoken opponents to climate change. In 2012, he tweeted that climate change is a conspiracy made up by China to “make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” In 2014, he re-asserted his viewpoint by referring to climate change as a “hoax” on Twitter. As a presidential candidate in 2016, Mr. Trump received endorsements from coal miners at his rally in West Virginia by promising “We’re going to put miners back to work.”

Most recently, the President withdrew the U.S from the Paris Climate Accord. The decision has set the U.S back from where the world is heading to and left other leaders disappointed. President Trump’s opposition to climate change has been consistent. It is predictable that under his presidency and the Republicans’ control of both branches, clean energy cannot prosper, and regulation for fossil fuel companies are not going to emerge.

The Threats for Science?

Since climate change skeptics usually base their views on their political party’s platform, we need to acknowledge that politics should leave science alone. The luxury of science is that it can be independent from politics and make its own judgments based on experiments and observation, similar to how our Supreme Court is an independent branch whose decision should never be influenced by a president’s political agenda.

If we continue this trend of denying the conclusion on climate change, we are feeding the dangerous process of doubting science and scientific studies. We may get to a point when people will immediately denounce science either with their own bias, their political preferences and for some, religion. This is not a go-to result for us when science is one of the most foundational aspects of our lives – it has allowed us to build houses and planes, cure diseases, and fly into space. We have taken this planet for granted. Now we need stop taking science for granted!

Hoang “Sally” Ho

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