Wednesday, May 24, 2017

These people want you to know climate change isn’t just for liberals

He doesn’t start with an apocalyptic description of future impacts when he talks to people about climate change, but, for some audiences, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Environmental Studies Calvin DeWitt does turn to the book of Revelation. “I’ll have a white-out pen in my pocket, and I’ll have them read Revelation chapter 11, verse 18. It’s a description of the sounding of the last trumpet, as you hear in Handel’s ‘Messiah,' and the end verse says, ‘The time has come for destroying those who destroy the Earth,’” DeWitt told me. “And so, I say, ‘I have a white-out pen here for anyone who would like to correct their Bible.’”


DeWitt sees his faith as fundamental to, rather than in conflict with, his concern about climate change. He often finds common ground with fellow evangelicals by talking about stewardship of the wonderful natural world they have been given as a home. Put in these familiar terms, climate change seems more like an issue worthy of careful consideration.

Public opinion on climate change is, generally speaking, sharply divided by political and cultural identity. Research on this “cultural cognition” by Yale’s Dan Kahan has highlighted patterns of polarization around certain topics. We rely on our network of family, friends, and community for signals about what is true, and we feel pressure to harmonize our views with the views of that group. The more that political signals get tangled up with climate science, the harder it becomes for conservatives to do anything but reject it.


Read the arsTechnica story by Scott K.KJohnson - “These people want you to know climate change isn’t just for liberals.”

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