Climate denial among D.C. policymakers thrives in echo chambers
The tendency for Washington policymakers to not accept mainstream climate science is growing inside echo chambers and under President Trump, according to a new peer-reviewed study.
Why it matters: The research adds some quantitative heft to the notion that Trump, who regularly dismisses and mocks climate change, is having a tangible impact among America’s most influential policy experts working inside the beltway of Washington, D.C.
Driving the news: Echo chambers — the concept that people share views only with those with similar views — have formed relatively quickly among policy leaders around misinformation of climate science under the Trump administration, according to the study, which is online but not-yet published in Environmental Research Communications.
- “The president has empowered the people who don’t want there to be any climate policy to hunker down in their echo chambers,” says Dana Fisher, co-author and sociology professor at the University of Maryland.
Where it stands: The study surveyed and analyzed dozens of Washington elites across government, think tanks and more, over 3 separate periods: 2010, 2016 and 2017.
- The latest year of research was the only time out of the 3 periods that the authors found echo chambers formed among those who do not accept the climate science consensus. They also found a lower tendency to agree with the statement that “human activities are an important driver of global climate change.”
- The respondents’ names are not included in the study, but earlier research lists participating organizations, which include many congressional offices, think tanks, environmental groups and administration agencies.
The big picture: This trend is at complete odds with climate change and the science underpinning it. Nearly all scientists agree that human activity is a dominant cause of Earth’s temperature rise over the last century, and connections between that and extreme weather are getting clearer — both in real life and in research.
Go deeper: The stark reality of the IPCC's 1.5-degree climate report