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Guest post by Ronan Connelly
Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) repeats the common mistake of conflating “[human-caused] climate change” with “air pollution” and “water pollution.” Concern over human-caused climate change is a highly partisan one – largely confined to the left-wing. But, concern over “air pollution” and “water pollution” is something that has almost universal bipartisan support – arguably even more so now than during the Nixon era.
This can be seen from the following chart from the NSF’s 2018 “Science & Engineering Indicators” report.
The chart shows US public concern over several environmental issues over the period 1993-2016. Notice that 70-80% of the US public (which would include many Republicans) consider water pollution (“Pollution of America’s rivers, lakes, and streams”) and air pollution (“Air pollution from industry”) to be “extremely dangerous” or “very dangerous“.
However, only 55% feel the same about climate change. Many other studies on public opinion on climate change get a similar figure, but find that it is highly partisan, i.e., >90% among Democrats, but <1/3 among Republicans.
While many Democrats (including Rep. Levin) conflate all three as generic “pollution” (and seem to think the solutions to each of them are the same), Republicans seem to be more nuanced on this, and notice that they are separate and distinct issues. The proposed “solutions” for greenhouse gas emissions have very little in common with the solutions for tackling water and air pollution.
P.S. Well done to Drs. Legates and Dayaratna for sticking up for science!