John Fleck has a very nice, if daunting article about the correlation between scientific and political beliefs about climate change on the ABQJournal site. Here’s the nut of it:
On climate science, every major arbiter that has reviewed the question — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union — has come to the same conclusion: that Earth has been warming for more than a century, and that emissions from burning petroleum and coal are the only reasonable explanation.
“On the climate issue,” University of Colorado political scientist Roger Pielke Jr. famously told the New York Times a number of years ago, “we appear to be on the brink of having Republican science and Democrat science.”
A survey published last year by the Pew Research Center found that 20 percent of conservative Republicans in the United States believe humans are causing global warming, compared to 71 percent of liberal Democrats. Over time, according to American University political scientist Matthew Nisbet, … if you drill down in the data, you find a hardening of partisan positions over time.
This is clearly a sign of a malfunctioning democratic process. We can’t manage a complex society if we are in disagreement about the facts. Even getting it wrong is less risky than half of us getting it wrong; even if you don’t agree with me which half is wrong you have to agree that this is a very serious problem.
I’d like John to speculate on the mechanisms for this disconnect. Some of this, I believe, is the result of malicious obfuscation of the facts by interested parties. Why is the press not getting to the bottom of the roots of misinformation? Can we go so far as to say the press is complicit?
I’d like to count John among my friends, even if he persistently fails to blogroll “In It”. Some of my best friends are journalists. Hell, I’d be a journalist in a heartbeat if I could get steady work. (Anybody interested? Let me know.)
So I really don’t want to get nasty about this, but the stuff that really ought to be making the papers these days is Oreskes’ work. Nisbet and Pielke are only a start. We need to say not just that this correlation between what we believe about science and what we believe about politics is a fact, but also that it is a problem, and that it is a problem deliberately instigated and maintained.
All of which will probably prevent me from getting a job as a journalist, but I have to wonder why. It’s true, after all.