Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why liberals and conservatives view climate change differently

This post examines, through the context of global warming, why liberals and conservatives often have different opinions on issues where there is a considerable amount of scientific evidence. Global warming, which, if true, may be the most critical issue of our time.

The media

The conservative media (Fox News, conservative talk radio) has generally refuted climate change and global warming and ridicules those who claim otherwise. However, they are starting to come around. Here's a sample:
The mainstream and progressive media (CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CurrentTV) present a mixed view:

Confirmation bias

Whatever your opinion is on climate change, you can find concurrent opinions in the media. Furthermore, you will tend to gravitate to news media that confirms your opinion which then further reinforces it. That, in a nutshell, is confirmation bias. If you have a more extreme view, you can certainly find concurrent views on the Internet. Facts become theories, theories become opinions and opinions become fluid. One concludes his or her gut feeling as fact. See:
The smart idiot effect

Conservatives tend to be more confident in their opinions. Liberals tend to be more open to changing their opinion. Both views have merit. The smart idiot effect occurs after one has formed an opinion and then presented with scientific "facts" that contradict their opinion. Studies show that smarter and more educated people will dismiss the facts more often than the general population because they are more confident in their opinions. Those that refute the facts even though they are intelligent and knowledgeable are the "smart idiots." Even more interesting, the more "smart idiots" are presented with facts, the more confident the "smart idiots" become in their original opinion.
The facts

The earth is getting warmer. The air temperatures are getting warmer. The oceans are getting warmer. The polar caps are melting and sea levels are rising. Glaciers are retreating. 2011 was the 9th hottest year on record. The 10 hottest years on record were from 1998 to the present. From July 1, 2011 to June 30th, 2012 was the hottest year in the United States.
See NASA's website on global climate change. Every single graph shows that the earth is warming.

It is almost certainly due to increased "greenhouse" gases in the atmosphere. It is almost certainly man made. Curious things, these things known as "facts".


Once one accepts global warming as fact, then one has to contemplate this: