No, not Friday cat blogging. I'm a dog person, folks. But I thought I would pause from the Swine Flu coverage to pass on these interesting findings with uncertain implications from a pair of researchers, Patrick Egan and Megan Mullin (via the Monkey Cage) regarding public opinion and climate change. They found:
For each three degrees that local temperature rises above normal, Americans become one percentage point more likely to agree that there is "solid evidence" that the earth is getting warmer.I can't decide if this makes me feel better or worse about the politics of passing climate change legislation. On the one hand, I'm banking on a hot summer, which the study suggests would cause support for climate change legislation to rise and, if we're lucky, 60 votes would then magically appear in the Senate. On the other hand, I don't know if I like the thought of the prospects for passing Waxman/Markey resting substantially upon the weather.
On the other hand, Americans aren't exactly a scientifically-aware lot (if polls are to be believed) and it should come as no surprise that low-information voters -- which the study claims are the ones whose opinions are swayed in this way -- would base their opinions on the outside temperature. I suppose the main upside is that even low-information voters bring a certain kind of common sense to the debate. The GOP may be able to lie and obfuscate on the policy details and on cap-and-trade's cost to consumers, but it's pretty hard to convince people in a sauna that they're not feeling the heat.
Chart by Egan and Mullin via the Monkey Cage