HOT COUTURE: IS CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL STILL IN FASHION?

This year has once again broken previous records on hottest year recorded. Wildfires spark not only the hills of San Bernardino county but also amongst environmental activists across the country. Sustainability has become quintessentially a piece of the fabric of contemporary democrats and scientists alike. With that being said, what about climate change deniers?

Still in Denial?

Climate change has been a hot issue since the 1980s, though records of it were introduced by David Charles Keeling in the 1960s by researching the composition of the earth’s atmosphere (GHG in ppm). It just wasn’t politically salient until the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 1992 when President George H.W. Bush would represent the U.S., but would leave the POTUS slightly marred by his party as a devious environmentalist. The data has been there for years, but dozens of politicians have tried vehemently to mislabel it as liberal propaganda. However, this issue would not become so politically divided until the 1990s. Since then, it’s really been an uphill battle for both environmentalists and climate scientists. Many scientists have actually had their lives threatened by the denier movement, so what is left to be said about them?

The Keeling Curve, recording CO2 concentrations since 1958. Credit: Scripps Institute of Oceanography

Currently, the trend is on a downward spiral. Many Republican individuals are realizing that the increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, and melting polar ice caps may be correlated with the increasing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Because of this, people have gone to reconcile their differences and, while not in complete support of environmentalists, acknowledge the concept of climate change (albeit not human caused climate change). However, while the populace may have reconciled, their public representatives have not joined that trend.

Donald Trump stated that global climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese government to dismantle the American economy. Before we start associating Donald Trump with lizard people, let’s take a look at what exactly might bring about this mentality, whether it be money or complete and utter ignorance.

But in all seriousness, the resemblance is uncanny

Getting Warmer in Washington

Apart from the 182 Republican climate change deniers in the 114th congress, there are also a few democrats who, when faced with the question of taking action towards climate change, find their morality pointed against the data (Insert Citation for democrats). 59% of Republicans in the House of Representatives (144 members) and 70% of Republicans in Senate (38 members) deny human being’s impact of global climate. That’s an alarmingly large number of people in power to throw out real and impactful national legislation. Of course when taking a look at campaign contributions and money received, many (if not all) of these people have received copious amounts from oil and carbon-based fuel companies. But that’s not the whole issue here. Money does not always mean that you are going to get elected into that comfy Senate chair (although it certainly helps ). Many times, these Representatives or Senators live in places that have large amounts of fossil-fuel companies working within state borders. Those companies mean more jobs for Americans, and jobs for Americans leads to happy voters and happy voters come from California. Wait, no, I mean they vote for the person that “helped” with the job. So it’s not only greed; it’s also based around real human beings who live in that state that depends on receiving money from the fossil fuel company they work for. And in many cases, these people don’t know anything else as far as professional prospects go, so transitioning may not be as easy as it could have been. (Or maybe it actually is according to Kentucky Miners. But I digress.) The point is, it’s not always about Government officials being greedy; having a happy electorate with work is a determinant factor in this puzzle as well.

Identities Bounded…by Sweat

But as stated earlier, climate change denial is on a downward trend within the past two years, but what does that actually mean for voters?

For the most parts, Americans believe that climate change is occurring. Whether or not people believe it is caused by human beings is another issue, but, at the very least, people see its presence in the environment. And that’s scary. Scary because farm work will be disrupted, coastal states will have a rude awakening with rising sea levels, and droughts are already destroying some of California’s few natural lakes. 70% of Americans believe that climate change is occurring, which works as a beautiful juxtaposition to the 70% of American House Representatives that deny it. Interestingly enough, while 64% of Democrats believe that a candidate that aligns themselves with Climate Action policy is a strong candidate (more likely to vote for), only 21% of Republicans think that it’s salient (and 27% are less likely to vote for the candidate). So there is clearly a divide between Republicans and Democrats as each use climate change as a demonstrator of identity but what does that say about it as a trend?

Potential POTUS Performing poorly

Donald Trump, being the “speak first; think later” candidate he is, is doing just what he believes is the way for him to behave, but he is not following the trend properly. He is not only asserting that climate change is not human caused, he states that it is a hoax. This is regressive; this completely undermines that countless documents and articles made by professionals that human-caused climate change is a reality. In fact, he is one of the only individuals who are running for being a world leader that actually denies climate change in the world. So while domestically, he is part of a large anti-climate change movement, internationally he is a lone player, and not just a lone player, but one that would disrupt climate action goals made among dozens of nations. If he were to actually try and overturn the plans made in the Paris Climate Deal, it would only lead to other world leaders deciding to act on their own country’s best interest and pursue the same goals. This is the same reason as to why many 3rd-world countries still do not act in accordance to many deals: they feel slighted given that the countries that contributed so much to the world’s current state of GHG emissions were able to reach that state by using fossil fuels while they have to cut down on fossil energy themselves.

In a way, he’s really just behaving as most other Republicans behave, but that does not make it appropriate for the international arena. It makes him a trend, one that is no longer á la mode.