Perceptions of climate change are influenced by religion, race, and political affiliations. Only a third of white evangelicals believe that human activities are causing climate change, while three-fourths of Hispanic Catholics and all religiously unaffiliated Americans hold this belief. Among political affiliations, Democrats are most likely to attribute climate change to human activities. The resistance to the climate change narrative is highest among white evangelical Protestants, who deny any evidence of climate change.
What influences people’s perceptions of climate change?
Perceptions of climate change are significantly shaped by religion, race, and political affiliations1. For instance, less than a third of white evangelicals attribute climate change to human-induced activities. In contrast, three-fourths of Hispanic Catholics and all religiously unaffiliated Americans believe human activities are causing climate change. Among political affiliations, 83% of Democrats, 64% of independents, and 28% of Republicans attribute climate change to human activities.
The debate on climate change is multifaceted and is influenced by various factors, including religion and race. These factors significantly shape individual views on whether human activities cause climate change. A recent survey reveals that less than a third of white evangelicals attribute climate change to human-induced activities.
The Scientific Perspective on Climate Change
The unequivocal consensus among scientists is that human activities are the driving force behind climate change. This summer, nearly everyone in the United States experienced the soaring temperatures, a direct consequence of human-caused climate change as per a new Climate Central analysis.
However, the persistent disagreement on the causes of climate change can potentially impede the achievement of political consensus on mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Divergent Views Among Different Religious and Racial Groups
A closer look at the survey results reveals a varied landscape of beliefs across different religious and racial groups. Three-fourths of Hispanic Catholics and all religiously unaffiliated Americans2 (76%) stand firmly in the belief that human activities are causing climate change. The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute published these findings on Wednesday.
However, the belief in human-induced climate change is less prevalent among other religious groups. Only 48% of Latter-day Saints and a mere 31% of white evangelical Protestants believe that human activity is causing climate change. In contrast, a slim majority of white Catholics (56%) and white mainline/non-evangelical Protestants (54%) agree with the scientific consensus.
The Broader American Perspective on Climate Change
Most Americans (61%) strongly believe that human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, are the main contributors to climate change. However, a stark contrast is evident when considering political affiliations.
Around 83% of Democrats attribute climate change to human activities, compared to 64% of independents and just 28% of Republicans. Consequently, Republicans are more inclined to believe that natural patterns in the Earth’s environment are causing climate change — 50%, compared to 28% independents and 12% Democrats. About 35% of Americans perceive the severity of recent climate disasters as evidence that we’re amid what the Bible describes as “the end of times,” compared to 63% who disagree with this interpretation.
Analyzing the Resistance to the Climate Change Narrative
Interestingly, 19% of white evangelical Protestants deny any evidence of climate change – the largest percentage of any religious group in the survey. This perspective aligns with the fact that white evangelicals hold significant sway over the Republican Party platform and are often instrumental in blocking climate change legislation.
The Influence of Theological Beliefs on Climate Change Perceptions
Andrew Chesnut, the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, offers an intriguing explanation. He suggests that many white evangelicals believe the second coming could be imminent, and thus, see no purpose in combating climate change. This belief prompts an entire industry of books, films, and lectures interpreting wars and natural disasters as signs of the End Times while disregarding scientific evidence.
Nonetheless, Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical climate scientist at Texas Tech and chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy, refutes this line of thought. She maintains that nothing in the Bible justifies disbelief in human-induced climate change. Hayhoe observes, “For many people, their identity is written, first of all, by their politics and their ideology, and only at a distant second by their theology.”
The Faith Factor in Climate Change survey was conducted online between June 8 and June 28. The poll’s results are based on a representative sample of 5,192 adults (age 18 and older) living in all 50 states who are part of Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel®. The margin of sampling error is +/- 1.62 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample.
This article discusses how people’s beliefs about climate change are influenced by their religion, race, and political affiliations. It states that only a third of white evangelicals believe that human activities are causing climate change, whereas three-fourths of Hispanic Catholics and all religiously unaffiliated Americans hold this belief. Among political affiliations, Democrats are most likely to believe that human activities are causing climate change. The article also mentions that the scientific consensus is that human activities are the driving force behind climate change. It discusses the different beliefs among religious and racial groups, with Hispanic Catholics and religiously unaffiliated Americans being more likely to believe in human-induced climate change, while white evangelical Protestants are less likely to believe in it. It also highlights the influence of these beliefs on political affiliations, with Democrats being more likely to believe in human-induced climate change compared to Republicans. The article concludes by mentioning that some white evangelicals deny any evidence of climate change, and this perspective aligns with their political influence in blocking climate change legislation. It also discusses the influence of theological beliefs on climate change perceptions, with some white evangelicals believing that the second coming is imminent and therefore not seeing a purpose in combating climate change. However, it refutes this belief by stating that nothing in the Bible justifies disbelief in human-induced climate change. The article ends by mentioning that the survey was conducted online and provides the methodology used.