Politics and climate change

By Sam Inglot
MSU researcher Aaron McCright (Courtesy photo)

MSU researcher studies how politics affect beliefs on global warming

Monday, April 29 — If you believe in the science behind climate change, you’re more likely to support combating it regardless of your political affiliation, according to new research at Michigan State University. However, you’re more likely to be a Democrat.

Aaron McCright, an associate professor in the Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Sociology, recently published an article in the journal “Climactic Change” that looked at political affiliation and acceptance of the science behind climate change. The study is one of the first of its kind, according to MSU.

The study found that U.S. residents who support the science behind global warming, whether they’re a Democrat or Republican, will be more likely to support government regulations to help combat it.

However, the study found that Republicans still lag behind Democrats in their acceptance of climate change science, even though it’s widely accepted by the scientific community.

“The more people believe scientists agree about climate change, the more willing they are to support government action, even when their party affiliation is taken into account,” McCright said in a statement. “But there is still a political split on levels of perceived scientific agreement, in that fewer Republicans and conservatives than Democrats and liberals believe there is a scientific consensus.”

McCright attributed the partisan split to the “denial machine” — a decades-long movement to undermine and discount the scientific findings behind climate change.

According to McCright, once everyone — of any political affiliation — are on the same page about climate change, that’s when governments and market forces can work together to address the issue.

“Certainly we can’t solve all our problems with global warming through government regulations — in fact, for some problems, government regulations might make it worse,” McCright said. “And so we need a combination of market-based solutions and government regulations.”

McCright was not available for comment.