by Jessica Goad
A report released today by the Better Future Project further highlights the wide gulf between academia and politics when it comes to climate science.
Today’s study offers a thought-provoking perspective on this phenomenon: it analyzes 18 politicians who hold office or are running for office in Massachusetts, and compares their opinions about climate change to those of researchers at the colleges and universities they attended.
In sum, 203 climate scientists from the alma maters of the various politicians were surveyed, all of whom had published related research in peer-reviewed journals. Overall, 202 of the experts agreed that human-caused climate change is real (99.5 percent). On the other hand, only 9 out of the 16 politicians (56 percent) holding or running for office in the state Massachusetts agree that climate change is man-made and real, while 7 have at some point denied it.
The positions of our two presidential candidates were also included in the analysis. Of particular interest are the views of climate researchers at the institutions that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney attended (Stanford, Brigham Young University, and Harvard).
Although Romney at one point professed his belief that climate change is real and man-made, he has since denied it by saying “my view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.” But, the report makes clear that:
…depending on how former-Governor Romney chooses to look at the matter, either 97-98% of all national experts, 97.6% of experts at the universities he attended, or 86% of the experts at his primary undergraduate institution (BYU) agree that climate change is real and manmade.
Of course, many of the experts surveyed were likely not at those institutions when Romney attended. But as the authors of the report explain, the candidates valued the academics and pedigree of the schools enough to choose them and spend money at them. And educational credentials are often highlighted on the campaign trail.
Not only does Romney disagree with experts from his alma maters and the overwhelming majority of scientists, he has gone so far as to mock President Obama and others who believe that global warming will be catastrophic. At the Republican National Convention, and again on the campaign trail, he said:
President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans — [pauses for audience laughter] — and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.
While some politicians may be laughing, experts and most of the American public are not.
Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.