Survey: Parties differ on climate, energy policies

A majority of self-identified Tea Partiers reject global warming and members are far more likely than the rest of Americans to oppose energy policies to address climate change, a new Yale University survey found.

Thirty-four percent of self-identified Tea Partiers said they believe global warming is real, but 53 percent of those surveyed do not believe global warming is happening, according to the study. Fifty-three percent of Republicans, 71 percent of independents and 78 percent of Democrats said they believe global warming is real.

Of the Democrats surveyed, 64 percents believe global warming is caused by humans. It’s in stark contrast to the Tea Party where half of the respondents said global warming is occurring naturally and another 21 percent of them reaffirmed that global warming isn’t true.

While a majority of all four groups support some action to reduce global warming, tea partiers are the only group to have a plurality opposing it. Forty percent of Tea Partiers say they want no action at all to reduce global warming.

An overwhelming 94 percent of Democrats support at least some U.S. action to combat global warming.

The survey results were put out Wednesday by Yale University Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Respondents who identified both as Tea Partiers and with one of the other three groups are counted only in Tea Party category.

The survey underscores how the Tea Party’s rise in the Republican Party has pushed Republican presidential candidates to the right on matters of science and energy policies.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who both have aligned themselves with the tea party, have come out rejecting the idea of global warming or suggesting that the science is inconclusive or wrong. Mitt Romney, who believes global warming is happening, has tweaked his stance in that past few weeks to say he now doesn’t know whether it is man-made or not.

“The science is not settled on this,” Perry said Wednesday night at a Republican candidates debate in California. “The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense.”

Less trust of science comes through in the study.

While 88 percent of Democrats said they generally trust what scientists say, the number drops to 51 percent among Tea Partiers.

About 97 to 98 percent of climatologists “most actively publishing in the field” support the view that human activity is causing global warming, according to a 2010 scientific review of academic studies. That view is summed up in the 2007 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which concludes with 90 percent confidence that human activity is responsible for most of the warming in the second half of the 20th century.

Eighty-three percent of Democrats said they somewhat or strongly support reducing carbon emissions 90 percent through an international treaty. But 74 percent of Tea Partiers said they somewhat or strongly oppose the idea. Republicans and independents fall somewhere in between. The same trend holds true on a 20 percent renewable electricity standard: A majority of Democrats support it, while a majority of tea partiers oppose it.

Tea Partiers support more  nuclear power plants and a majority somewhat support or strongly support a nuclear power plant in their local area.

However, all four groups agree in some areas.

Majorities of Democrats, Republicans, independents and Tea Partiers said they support expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.

All four groups also said they support giving tax credits for energy efficiency upgrades, boosting funding for research into renewable energy sources, requiring more energy-efficient homes and bike paths and increasing access to public transportation.

Politics Global Warming 2011