Guest essay by Eric Worrall
US Television Personality Bill Nye thinks the younger generation will save the world from Climate Change, by forcing the Republican Party to embrace climate narratives to win their vote. But there are a few factors Nye is overlooking.
“Don’t be surprised, after the conservatives, the Republicans, pick somebody, this person goes, well, I’ve been thinking about it and climate change is a big issue. Because I don’t think they can quite get enough — I don’t think the party can quite get enough votes without millennials. Climate denial is almost entirely generational. Only now and then do you meet a young person — nobody your age is a climate denier. Very few. It’s all old people.”
Is there any evidence to back Nye’s claim that climate skepticism increases with age? The answer is yes – but the correlation is weak. Other factors such as political affiliation are stronger predictors of climate views – though the correlation between politics and climate views is not as strong as a lot of people assume.
It would be fascinating to see whether people who believe in dangerous anthropogenic climate change retain that belief as they age, or whether the demographic stays more or less stable. According to Gallup, there has been a slow rise in climate alarmism since 1997, which supports Bill’s assertion that millennials will shift the balance of concern about Climate Change.
However, when asked to rate lists of concerns in order of priority, Climate Change consistently comes last. Young people who say they are concerned about climate change, generally don’t support taking action to combat climate change, when given other choices.
See http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/07/17/despite-the-urgency-of-paris-a-u-n-sponsored-global-poll-rates-climate-change-dead-last/ for more information.
Is Bill Nye right, that climate will eventually force the capitulation of skeptical politicians to public climate concerns? In my opinion, the answer is that Bill Nye is wrong.
The evidence suggests that people care most about issues which affect them every day. Even if the younger generation retains their climate concerns, daily concerns about safety, financial security and that pothole at the end of the street which nobody has fixed will continue to trump the climate issue.
At most politicians will begin to pay more empty lip service to climate concerns, but even this is far from certain.
If you were to draw an age related demographic of belief in the tooth fairy, you would find tooth fairy skepticism is also correlated with age. Older people tend to see through the lies they were fed in their youth.
As long as WUWT and other skeptical organisations can continue to point out the flaws in alarmist narratives, skeptical messages will reach enough voters to at least defuse belief in the alleged urgency of the climate issue, so that expensive, socially and financially harmful policies designed to combat the imaginary climate threat will continue to be obstructed.