Young Republicans think their party is on the wrong side of the climate debate

Establishment Republicans will probably never authorize sweeping action on climate change. The Fox News crowd is twice as likely as other Republicans to say climate change isn’t caused by humans.

 

But that’s not true for young Republicans (as well as most of the GOP under the age of 38). Pew Research Center recently polled to gauge their opinion on climate change, and the results show a generational divide in the GOP getting wider with every generation.

Majorities of Americans say the federal government is doing too little for key aspects of the environment, from protecting water or air quality to reducing the effects of climate change. And most believe the United States should focus on developing alternative sources of energy over expansion of fossil fuel sources, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

While only 31% of boomers (1946-64) say the federal government does too little to reduce the effects of climate change, 52% of millennials (born after 1980) say the same thing. Overall, two-thirds of US adults (67%) agree the US government does too little. And don’t expect change anytime soon. The average age of the Congress is among the highest in American history: 57.8 years old for House members, and 61.8 for senators.

While it’s unlikely enough GOP incumbents (or older conservative voters) will change their mind on climate to break a congressional stalemate, movement is unlikely to depend on convincing opponents of climate policy.

As German physicist Max Planck once said about progress in science, it advances one funeral (or retirement) at a time. “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it,” he wrote in his 1968 autobiography. When it comes the politics of climate change, the axiom may apply to Congress as well.

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