Where I live, it’s bitter cold right now, but I know that this cold snap fits within a larger pattern of global warming that in turn fits within a bigger picture of global climate change. Scientifically gathered and analyzed facts over the last three decades have supported this theory of reality with increasing strength.
Many Republicans don’t see things this way, though. They continue to support alternative theories that don’t match the available scientific data. They’re looking for theories that match Republican political ideology, which holds that there isn’t a need for strong environmental regulation. A persistent Republican core holds on to assertions that fluctuations in the energy coming from the sun are to blame for the climate change of our times.
One of the latest pieces of research on climate comes from the University of Edinburgh, where a team of scientists analyzed temperature data from over the past thousand years, undermines the Republicans’ pet theory of solar-led climate change. The Edinburgh researchers found that, until about the year 1800, volcanic activity and not fluctuations in solar activity best explained climate shifts. At around 1800, this natural chain of causation began to be replaced by what we currently experience, until, a little over 100 years ago, human-created pollution became the dominant force in shaping climate change.
Don’t expect Republicans to change their tune any time soon about solar activity and climate change, though. Republican politics demands that its followers accept scientifically untenable ideas, and most Republicans are willing to give in to that demand.
A survey recently released by the Pew Religion and Public Life Project indicates that a majority of Republicans now believes that human beings have not undergone biological evolution as a species. This isn’t the number that believes that biological evolution of the human species was led by a supernatural being, such as the Christian god, rather than by natural selection. These Republicans – 57 percent of members of the GOP – believe that human beings have never ever evolved biologically at all, due to any cause.
What’s more, this antiscientific belief, contrary to all the evidence of human evolution that’s been collected over generations, seems to be getting stronger among Republicans. In the last four years, the number of Republicans who believed in the reality of human evolution of one form or another has declined, from 54 percent to 43 percent.