Study: US Won’t Act On Climate Change Because Citizens Believe World Is Ending

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A new study concludes many Americans have failed to take action about climate change because they believe that the world will be coming to an end anyway.

In their study, titled “End-Times Theology, the Shadow of the Future, and Public Resistance to Addressing Global Climate Change,” David C. Barker of the University of Pittsburgh and David H. Bearce of the University of Colorado argue that citizens who believe in the end of days “often resist policies trading short-term costs for hypothetical long-term benefits.”

“[T]he fact that such an overwhelming percentage of Republican citizens profess a belief in the Second Coming (76 percent in 2006, according to our sample) suggests that governmental attempts to curb greenhouse emissions would encounter stiff resistance even if every Democrat in the country wanted to curb them,” Barker and Bearce wrote in the study.

Their findings, which will be published in the June issue of Political Science Quarterly, are based on data from the 2007 Cooperative Congressional Election Study.

“[I]t stands to reason that most nonbelievers would support preserving the Earth for future generations, but that end-times believers would rationally perceive such efforts to be ultimately futile, and hence ill-advised,” Barker and Bearce wrote.

That sentiment is not just confined to average citizens. The chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, Rep. John Shimkus, said in 2010 that he opposed action on climate change because “the Earth will end only when God declares it to be over.”

According to the researchers, the results of the study indicate that the U.S. would probably not be taking any action on climate change when so many of its citizens, particularly Republicans, believed in the impending end of days, Raw Story reported.

“That is, because of institutions such as the Electoral College, the winner-take-all representation mechanism, and the Senate filibuster, as well as the geographic distribution of partisanship to modern partisan polarization, minority interests often successfully block majority preferences,” Barker and Bearce wrote.

“Thus, even if the median voter supports policies designed to slow global warming, legislation to effect such change could find itself dead on arrival if the median Republican voter strongly resists public policy environmentalism at least in part because of end-times beliefs.”

Sources: Raw Story, Political Research Quarterly