A new poll indicates that growing numbers of Republicans don’t believe global climate change is real.
The quality of anecdotes, alas, is also showing steady declines:
Lisa Woolcott, another Republican poll respondent, said she doesn’t think that burning fossil fuels is “causing all the global warming,” adding: “We can’t control what happens in the atmosphere.” But Woolcott, a physician’s assistant who lives in Kansas City, Kan., said she supports the idea of a bill that would cap the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and doesn’t think the United States should predicate its actions on what other nations do. “We need to do what’s best for us,” she said. “I don’t think we should back down.”
No, I don’t know, either.
But it brings up a pretty fair point about public opinion, as a detector of trends in attitudes as the basis for policy. Attention to global warming has much to do with pending legislation, of course, the opposition to which itself mirrors hardening opposition to Obama. But reliance on governing by public opinion would vary by the same factors – the ebb and flow of legislative priorities, the relative popularity of leading politicians. What won’t change is our relationship to growing problems, that are in-progress, tied to our behavior and representative of the need for broad changes in the disposition of society. Public opinion and good policy are not two great tastes that go great together; they may coincide; they may switch off being in the lead from time to time. But while public opinion shouldn’t be ignored, developing good policy must not be. How we do elevate policy considerations without basing them on public opinion or giving short-shrift to both?
You can always never force people to be informed and have opinions on non-local phenomena.