Noon: Public unconcerned with climate change
On Feb. 11, Politico released survey results from “a bipartisan panel of respondents” who it claims are “Republican and Democratic insiders” … “activists, strategists and operatives in the four early nominating states” who answered the questions anonymously. The results? As one Republican respondent from South Carolina put it: “Climate change is simply not a front-burner issue to most people.” A Nevada Democrat agreed: “I don’t believe this is a critical issue for many voters when compared to the economy and national security.”
One South Carolina Republican said that no “blue-collar swing voter” ever said: “I really like their jobs plan, but, boy, I don’t know about their position on climate change.” Overall, the Republicans don’t think that opposing public policy to address the perceived threats of climate change will hurt their candidates. The topic never came up in the recent Republican debate in South Carolina.
Democrat billionaire Tom Steyer, one of the country’s biggest individual political donors, sees that on the issue of climate change, “the two parties could not be further apart.” However, the “insider” survey found that Democrats were split on the issue. When asked if “disputing the notion of manmade climate change would be damaging in the general election,” some thought it would, but others “thought climate change isn’t a major issue for voters.”
While we are far from the days, of “drill, baby drill,” when asked about increasing production, Republicans see that their pro-development policies are unaffected by “price fluctuations.” A South Carolina Republican stated: “Most Republicans view this issue through a national security lens. Low prices might diminish the intensity, but GOP voters will still want America to be energy independent regardless of oil prices.”
On Feb. 12, Politico held a gathering called “Caucus Energy South Carolina” that featured several of the South Carolina “insiders” among whom the host said were “influential voices,” who offer “keen insight into what’s going on on the ground.”
There, Mike McKenna, who has consulted a wide variety of political clients and who has served as an external relations specialist at the U.S. Department of Energy, declared: “Energy is a second-tier issue. Climate change is fifth tier. Nobody cares about it. It is always at the bottom.”
The climate change agenda has been the most expensive and extensive public relations campaign in the history of the world. Gallup has been polling on this issue for 25 years. Despite the Herculean effort, fewer people are worried about climate change today than 25 years ago. Pew Research Center has repeatedly found that when given a list of concerns regarding the public’s policy priorities, respondents put jobs and economy at the top of the list, with climate change at the bottom. Polling done just before the United Nations climate conference in Paris, found that only 3 percent of Americans believe that climate change is the most important issue facing America.
Even Democrat Jane Kleeb, an outspoken opponent of the Keystone pipeline, acknowledged that climate change, as an issue, doesn’t move people to act.
David Wilkins, a former U.S. Ambassador to Canada who has worked on issues such as energy, national security, and the environment, said that voters are “not going to let the environment trump the economy.” He believes there will be a reapplication for the Keystone pipeline and that eventually it will be built. Another insider, Democrat Inez Tenenbaum, disagreed, saying: “people don’t want to be energy dependent.” To which Wilkins quipped: “All the more reason to get oil from our friends.”
When it comes to energy, there are clearly differences between the parties, but strangely both agree that climate change isn’t “a major issue for voters.”
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy.