With Hurricane Isaac rolling through southern Louisiana while the Republican National Convention enters its last day, surprisingly few people are talking about climate change. This may seem strange, considering that in March 2011, after the disastrous earthquake and tsunami in Japan, nearly 6-in-10 (58%) Americans reported that the severity of recent natural disasters was evidence of global climate change.
But it’s not surprising that, even with the onslaught of Isaac, climate change isn’t getting given the belief among most Republicans about the tenuous relationship between extreme weather and climate change. Last March, more Republicans reported that natural disasters were evidence of what the Bible calls the “end times” (52%) than said they were the result of global climate change (41%). And while nearly 7-in-10 (69%) Americans say there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, there are sharp partisan divides:
- Eighty-one percent of Democrats and 7-in-10 (70%) Independents believe the earth is getting warmer, compared to fewer than half (49%) of Republicans and only about 4-in-10 (41%) Americans who identify as members of the Tea Party.
- Fewer than 1-in-5 Republicans (18%) and Tea Party members (18%) believe that climate change is caused by human activity, compared to 60% of Democrats.
For Republicans, the environment in general is a much lower priority than other issues. Last summer, only 25% of Republicans said the environment was a critical issue facing the country, compared to 50% of Democrats and 42% of Independents. With the economy drowning out most other issues, it’s likely that the environment and climate change in particular, will not receive a coveted spot at either convention.