By Chris Adams
It’s hard to separate climate science from climate politics, meaning the chance of getting legislation through Congress to impact it is – right now – iffy at best.
That’s why Joseph Majkut of the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank, says it is vital to begin the process of convincing Republicans of the moral and economic necessity of believing the science that explains and projects the impacts of a warming planet.
Because a warming and changing climate will hurt people and their property, Majkut and his organization see doing something about it as a moral imperative – although one that most Republicans have not yet embraced.
Majkut (bio, Twitter), the organization’s director of climate science, led National Press Foundation fellows through the politics of the issue – starting with public opinion, which supported the Paris climate treaty as well as proposals to assess carbon taxes in the U.S.
Despite public opinion that generally supports taking such federal actions, climate change has also become a “tribal indicator” – a way for politicians and citizens to prove Red State bona fides.
“Political preference is very strong indicator of climate belief,” Majkut said. “Our working hypothesis is you have to engage some level of Republican support. It needs to be acceptable to be a conservative or a Republican who thinks climate change is a respectable thing to work on.”
How to do so? While there are some Republicans in a bipartisan climate change caucus in Congress, for the most part Republicans have chosen not to engage on the issue.
That, Majkut said, is a mistake.
“If the scientific community comes to a consensus on an issue, we should largely operate from that consensus,” he said.