On November 17, the Pew Research Center released the results of a new survey about Americans’ views on the environment, particularly climate change.
Pew’s report on the survey results says they showed that “highly religious Americans overwhelmingly say God gave humans a duty to protect and care for the Earth, but far fewer see climate change as a serious problem.” Specifically: 92% (including 86% of evangelicals) say God gave us that duty, but only 42 percent consider climate change an “extremely/very serious problem,” while 39 percent think Earth is getting warmer because of human activity.
The survey found that while 57% of U.S. adults consider climate change an “extremely serious” problem, only 34% of evangelicals do—compared with 55% of mainline Protestants and 68% of members of historically Black denominations.
It also found that while 53% of U.S. adults think Earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity, only 32% of evangelicals do—compared with 50% of mainline Protestants and 46% of historically Black.
A major emphasis of Pew’s report is the claim that the survey results show that political views are the primary driver of “skepticism about climate change.”
There are two problems with this.
First, the quoted words are deceptive shorthand for skepticism of the combined claims that (a) human activity has been the primary driver of global warming since about 1960 with natural causes contributing little; (b) the consequences of that human-induced warming and its continuation will be catastrophically harmful; therefore (c) the world should spend trillions of dollars rapidly transforming the global energy infrastructure to substitute “renewable” energy sources, primarily wind and solar, for fossil fuels, and radically changing the whole global economic order.
If survey respondents were asked if they agreed with all that, far fewer would say they considered “climate change” (all that) an extremely or very serious problem.
Second, there are several reasons to reject the claim that political views are the chief driver of views about climate change.
One is that it confuses correlation with causation. That two things correlate doesn’t necessarily establish any causal relation between them.
Another is that Pew’s interpretation of the correlation might well reverse cause and effect. It is entirely possible that “skepticism about climate change” might prompt people toward certain political views as they observe politicians embracing climate alarmism and basing policies on it.
Yet another is that “skepticism about climate change” and certain political views, rather than either causing the other, are both effects of something else entirely—namely, knowledge of scientific data that undermine climate alarmism; of energy engineering facts that undermine belief that wind, solar, and other “renewable” energy sources can provide the reliable energy at scale as well as fossil fuels can; and of economic facts that undermine the claims that the costs of human-induced warming vastly exceed the benefits and the benefits of efforts to mitigate it by substituting “renewable” energy for fossil fuels vastly exceed the costs—indeed, economic facts that indicate the very opposite, that the benefits of warming exceed the costs, and the costs of mitigation exceed the benefits.
It is that knowledge that the Cornwall Alliance conveys, to any audiences, but especially to evangelicals. And that knowledge logically leads both to “skepticism about climate change” and to political views that contrast with those common to the climate-alarmist agenda.
People who grasp that knowledge will recognize that support for private property rights, entrepreneurship, free trade, limited government, and the rule of law—basically, classical liberal, that is, free market, economics—is consistent with it.
People who don’t grasp that knowledge are more likely to think many and severe restrictions on private property rights, burdens placed on entrepreneurship, barriers to trade, the expansion of government, and the substitution of the regulatory state for the rule of law—basically, socialism or central economic planning—are necessary to mitigate “climate change.”
The Cornwall Alliance is the only organization of evangelicals speaking for evangelicals mainly to evangelicals about Earth stewardship and especially manmade climate change that holds that it is real but not a serious problem demanding vastly expensive action with little effect on temperature.
The Pew survey results are consistent with the conclusion that the Cornwall Alliance’s message has profoundly influenced evangelicals’ thinking about climate change and public policy related to it.
There simply is no better explanation for this large and persistent difference between evangelicals’ and other Americans’ views on climate change than the Cornwall Alliance. This means your financial support for the Cornwall Alliance bears fruit. Please consider donating today!