Climate Politics and Impacts for Global Climate Action: Conservative media bias is inflating American climate denial and polarization

By Magdalena A K Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate and Global Change

The outcome of the US election will affect US and global climate politics.

A new study by a team of sociologists at Oklahoma State University has found political polarization on climate change is growing in the United States. Today’s Republicans are less likely than they were a decade ago to accept that the effects of global warming have begun, that humans are responsible, and that there is a scientific consensus on these questions. Democrats and independents are slightly more likely to answer these questions correctly today than a decade ago.

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Global warming views by party controlling for education and era. Illustration: Dunlap et al. (2016)

Climate change is now more polarizing in the US than abortion or gay marriage. At the same time, climate denial has become the norm among Republican policymakers, as they’ve grown increasingly anti-environment.

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League of Conservation Voters’ environmental voting scores U.S. Congress – by chamber and party. Photograph: Dunlap et al. (2016).

Public perception and priorities are also heavily influenced by the media. A 2013 study found that conservative media consumers are more likely to distrust scientific experts and reject climate science realities.

Relatedly, a new report by Media Matters on climate coverage in major American newspaper opinion pages found pervasive misinformation in the Wall Street Journal.

Out of 93 climate-related opinion pieces published in the Journal during the time period examined, 31 featured climate science denial or other scientifically inaccurate claims about climate change (33 percent)

A study last year found that the WSJ’s biased climate coverage extended beyond its opinion pages to its news coverage as well. And during the time of the scandalous #ExxonKnew revelations, Media Matters found that the WSJ was a constant apologist for the oil company.

 

Further Information

The Political Divide on Climate Change: Partisan Polarization Widens in the U.S.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00139157.2016.1208995


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