Your Stance on Global Warming Has Come to Define Your Identity as Either a Democrat or a Republican

Despite the ever growing scientific consensus about the nature and urgency of global warming, Americans remain more divided politically on the matter than at anytime in history. The reason is that personal views on global warming have come to define what being a Democrat or Republican means. As GOP leaders continue to attack the science of global warming, and Democratic leaders like Al Gore continue to emphasize the urgency of the climate crisis, stances on global warming among the public have hardened into "political identity markers."

Thus, what it "means" to be Republican is to identify yourself as in opposition to policy action on global warming. The more staged partisan spectacles that occur, like Gore's Congressional testimony or Senator James Inhofe's Fox & Friends appearances, the more integrated and stable these identity markers become.

And now, the Supreme Court just made matters worse.

Across polls, the gap in perceptions between Dems and Republicans is roughly forty to fifty percentage points, and a similar divide can be found in the many organized debates going on across college campuses. Yesterday it showed up again in a 5-4 vote at the Supreme Court.

The ruling by the Supreme Court that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant will be heralded as a major event in shaping public perceptions, but in reality little, if anything, will change.

What will be picked up by the conservative commentators, broadcast by Fox News, and trumpeted by the Wall Street Journal is the decision by the GOP icons of the court--including Chief Justice Roberts, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas-- to dissent. As the NY Times reports, Roberts in his dissent emphasized the ever familiar "scientific uncertainty" frame, even though he argued that the central principle guiding his interpretation was legal standing, rather than the science behind global warming:

Contrary to what the majority held, the plaintiffs failed to show a cause-and-effect relationship between global warming and actual injury, the chief justice wrote. For instance, he dismissed as "pure conjecture" a plaintiffs' assertion that Massachusetts is gradually losing its coastal territory to higher sea levels generated by global warming.

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post also picks up on this partisan split at the court:

The decision in Commonwealth of Massachusetts et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency et al . also reinforced the division on the Supreme Court, with its four liberal members in the majority and its four most conservative members dissenting. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's role as the key justice in this term's 5 to 4 decisions was again on display, as he sided with Stevens, Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David H. Souter.

Here's how Beth Daley of the Boston Globe characterizes the reasoning behind the dissent of the reliably Republican members of the court:

Most of the dissent centered on whether individual states could use the federal courts to address their complaints. Roberts wrote that Congress and the executive branch, not the courts, should address the states' concerns about the EPA's lack of regulation. He stressed that his position involves "no judgment" on global warming.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less