Donald Trump’s memorable quotes on global warming build front-page stories on their own. His suggestion in November 2012 that global warming is actually a concept devised by the Chinese “in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive” will go down in the history books as one of the strangest gaffs yet to emerge on the subject. But even though he later dismissed the statement as a “joke,” he hasn’t backed away from his position that global warming is a “hoax,” even though an overwhelming number of scientists say global warming isn’t just real, but it’s also human-made.
“I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change,” he told the Washington Post in an interview with its editorial board this March. His comment, though softer than his earlier controversial tweets, didn’t clarify if he understood that global warming and the see-saw impacts of climate change are believed to be linked.
But even if he doesn’t agree with scientific data suggesting that global warming is happening, many of his supporters do. According to a survey just released by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, when it comes to global warming, the majority of his voters disagree with him. Fifty-six percent believe climate change is happening. A third (35 percent) of those who said they would vote for Trump admitted they were worried about the impacts of global warming.
And, like Trump, his voters offer a broad spectrum of contradictory views. While the majority believe that global warming is underway, only 45 percent believe it is man-made. Fifty-five percent believe that it is either caused by nature or are conflicted on this issue. When asked about the scientific data that supports their view, only 3 percent are aware of the scientific consensus: 97 percent of climate scientists that have published on the issue say global warming is actually happening and is “extremely likely” to be due to human activity.
That last statistic is interesting when you consider that Democrats scored remarkably low on the question as well. Only 38 percent of Sanders’ supporters and 27 percent of Clinton’s said they were aware of the overwhelming scientific backing of human-made global warming. The remainder of Republican voters surveyed scored almost as low as Trump’s supporters: Kasich 11 percent and Cruz 2 percent.
That’s not to say that Trump’s supporters are ambivalent on what should be done to help out the environment. When it came to whether carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant, 62 percent said yes. More than half (51 percent) were in support of businesses paying a carbon tax, even though Trump has gone on record to categorically oppose a carbon tax.
Voters of both parties support a wide range of environmental initiatives. When it came to Trump’s legion, a high number of respondents said they felt there should be tax rebates for energy-efficient vehicles and renewable power like solar, with 70 percent in support of such ideas. Even more voters said that there should be more research into renewable energy sources. Trump hasn’t taken a position on solar other than to say the technology is “unproven“and “hasn’t caught on because … it’s a 32-year payback.” He also believes that “windmills kill a lot of birds” and are “ugly.”
Lastly, the presumptive Republican candidate may be surprised to find out that almost a third (30 percent) of his assumed voters say that the candidate’s position on global warming will be one of the key issues that will determine whom they vote for in the November election.
Image credit: Flickr/Evan Guest