Bioethics Blogs

Cross Post: Our political beliefs predict how we feel about climate change

Written by Prof Neil Levy

Originally published on The Conversation

The man who called global warming a fabrication invented by the Chinese to make US manufacturing less competitive is now president-elect of the US. His followers expect him to withdraw the US from the Paris climate change agreement and eliminate the environmental regulations introduced by his predecessor.

But recently, Donald Trump has shown a few signs that he might be open to being convinced that climate change is a real problem requiring action. In discussion with journalists at the New York Times, he expressed the view that there is “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change, adding that he’s keeping an open mind about it.

Will his commitments on climate change go the way of his vow to prosecute Hillary Clinton? I doubt it. I suspect that in the end, the words of his close advisers will be more persuasive than those of climate scientists. He will retain only a figleaf of regulation, at best.

Trump often boasts of his intelligence. Many people might take his scepticism about climate change as evidence against his inflated sense of his own abilities. I don’t think it is. I have no high opinion of Trump’s intelligence, but scepticism about climate change is not the result of a lack of mental capacity or of rationality. The minds of sceptics are not working any less well than those who accept the consensus. They are more victims of bad luck than of bad thinking.

Left-right divide

In fact, there is little relationship between intelligence and knowledge and beliefs on climate change (or other hot button issues, such as evolution).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.