Are Americans in Denial and "Mad As Hell" about Climate Change....Or Just More Generally Anxious, Fearful, Disillusioned, Worn Out, Frustrated, Down, and Distrustful?
Have you noticed just how ubiquitous the phrase "mad as hell" has become in news coverage and commentary? The catchphrase has been used to support a narrative that anger is driving the shifts in the electorate and opposition to issues such as climate action. The term is an allusion to the famous scene in the 1976 film Network, where Peter Finch as news anchor-turned-lunatic George Beale declares on camera that "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore," setting in motion a Glenn Beck-like following of viewers who act on Beale's advice to go to their windows and shout the same thing.
Yet does anger really accurately capture the national mood? Certainly, there are segments of angry voters on the right and the left, but can the motivations, opinions, and voting decisions of Americans be attributed to this darkest of emotions?
For journalists and commentators, the attribution makes for an easy and dramatic narrative. It also feels comfortable to many liberals and Democrats. If opposition is based on deep anger, there is no hope to reason or compromise with the other side. Or perhaps more importantly there is no reason to re-evaluate policies such as cap-and-trade, turning to other climate solutions that might offer clearer benefits to Americans. Instead, opposition to cap and trade is narrowly defined as outright denialism or a "bottom up" war on science.
Yet in contrast, public opinion experts define today's public mood very differently. As Dan Balz reports at the Washington Post , polling and focus groups turn up feelings not of anger but of anxiety, frustration, disillusionment, fear, and distrust of almost every major institution in America including business.
Consider also a separate survey reported on at The Post that finds that a majority of Americans fear that they won't be able to make next month's rent or mortgage payment, up from 37% when Obama took office in 2008.
In this emotional context, questioning climate science is a natural psychological defense strategy, making it easy for a person to articulate opposition to climate policies that are perceived as risky, costly, overly complex, an increase in government regulation, and offering no perceived immediate or tangible benefits.
From the article at The Post by Dan Balz on public mood:
"The mood is a combination of frustration and fear and desperation and down," said Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster who helps oversee the NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll. "Everybody wants to talk about it as anger, and anger is certainly there. But it cuts much deeper than the traditional anger that you see in so many elections. This one really goes to the sense of people feeling on the edge and 'How do I make life work?' They're striking out in all directions in order to just change things."
Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster and Hart's partner in the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, said, "The words I would use are 'anxious' and 'worn out.' People are losing hope. . . . We are in a very unusual, long economic crunch that is making people feel very, very anxious. People are used to down times where America bounces back, but they're not seeing it bounce back."
Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center says disillusionment is the most powerful sentiment of the electorate as a whole. Trust in government is at low ebb. Evaluations of Congress's performance are as negative as they have been in two decades. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are rated positively.
"Generally in a wave election, one party comes up as the other goes down," Kohut said. "But Republicans are not well rated." Dissatisfaction extends to the private sector, too, with most institutions drawing low marks. "People are pretty down," he added. "A lot of this is fed by a bad economy, a feeling of hopelessness."
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.