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Why Republicans doubt global warming
An essay argues that the GOP is the only major political group that doesn't believe in climate change. Why is it holding out?
Some see continuing GOP climate skepticism as a result of its core anti-government ideology.
Some see continuing GOP climate skepticism as a result of its core anti-government ideology.
Corbis
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he Republican Party is "stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science" that makes it unique among major political parties around the globe, says Ronald Brownstein at National Journal. The trend started with the hardening of GOP opposition to cap-and-trade legislation designed to reduce emissions of gases linked to climate change, and now several Senate candidates with Tea Party roots, including Sharron Angle, are "dismissing the scientific evidence that global warming is even occurring." Why, unlike conservatives in other countries, are Republicans questioning the growing consensus on climate change?

It's not just the GOP — half the country has doubts: Republicans aren't the outliers they're made out to be, says Ross Douthat at the The New York Times. Only 49 percent of Americans think humans are responsible for global warming, and there are roughly as many skeptics in most Northern European countries. Republicans just "tend to be more responsive to public opinion, and less constrained by elite sentiment, than their counterparts in Europe."
"Why don't Republicans believe in climate change?"

It's all about ideology: "Climate science denial" is a product of the Republicans' "commitment to anti-government ideology," says Jonathan Chait at The New Republic. The party's libertarian streak gives rise to all kinds of "crackpot pseudo-science doctrines" — climate skepticism is one, trickle-down economics is another. These stubborn positions are necessary to "justify anti-government stances that otherwise would be seen as wildly irresponsible."
"Why are American conservatives the only climate-change skeptics?"

The problem is too hard: "Part of the problem here is that Republicans reject the science because they oppose the solutions," says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly.  If they believed in global warming, "GOP officials would no doubt have a harder time explaining why they don't want to deal with a climate crisis that has the potential to wreak havoc on the planet in dramatically dangerous ways."
 "How did an entire political party decide to reject climate-change science?"

Somebody has to counter the "alarmists": Most "skeptics" concede the planet is warming, says Warren Meyer at Forbes. Many even believe that carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels will push up temperatures by a degree or two over the next century — but that's as far as the "settled science" goes. Skeptics just don't believe the "scare stories" peddled by "alarmists" who insist we're barreling toward a "catastrophe" that only economically disastrous legislation can stop.
"Denying the catstrophe: The science of the climate skeptic's position"

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