More Americans than ever say climate is a “major threat” — except Republicans

Young demonstrators join the 2019 International Youth Climate Strike event at the Capitol in Washington
Young demonstrators join the 2019 International Youth Climate Strike event at the Capitol in Washington
Image: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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More Americans than ever say global warming is now a primary danger. The share of US adults calling climate change a “major threat” to the country’s well-being rose from 40% in 2013 to 57% in 2019, according to a July poll by the Pew Research Center.

Yet almost none of that change is happening inside the Republican party. Pew asked a sample of 1,502 adults between July 10-15, 2019. Conservatives and moderates saw only a slight increase in those who consider climate change a major threat—5% and 9% respectively. However, Pew noted that this was not statistically significant since the margin of error for each political cohort of about 8% or less.

Republicans’ reluctance accepting climate change as an urgent danger is reflected in Congress. Few Republican efforts to address the climate crisis, such as Representative Matt Gaetz “Green Real Deal” targeting carbon-capture technology and Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander’s call for a new clean energy Manhattan Project, have garnered much support from within the Republican party. One exception is the bipartisan tax credit for carbon capture and storage technology passed in 2018 (the IRS is still working out the details for how people can claim it).

Urgent climate action seems unlikely unless Democrats sweep the 2020 election, wresting away control of the Senate and White House, or a sea change occurs among the Republican electorate. Younger voters, no matter their political affiliation, will lead this change, if it happens. Many have grown up in a world without a single month of below-average temperature, reports The New York Times. Today, roughly 60% of Republicans between the age of 23 and 38 say the US is feeling the effects of climate change, twice the number of those over age 52 and nearly three-quarters of Republicans under 30 disapprove of  Trump approach to global warming, according to a Harvard University survey (pdf).