As part of a campaign organized by the new Democratic Senate “climate caucus” members of the Senate held an overnight meeting to discuss climate change. Ironically, the meeting coincided with a newly released Gallup poll that came out at the same time.
The Gallup poll presented fifteen different issues to people, and asked them which topics were most significant to them. Concerns about the environment ranked second to last, just ahead of “race relations,” and just behind ‘environmental quality.” According to the poll, twenty-four percent of Americans worry about climate change “a great deal,” while 51 percent worried about it “a little/not at all.” The poll suggests that concern for the environment has dropped even lower than last year among Americans. It appears that people are more concerned about healthcare, the economy, and government spending, than they are about climate change.
The Gallup report compared Republican-leaning respondents to Democratic-leaning respondents on each of the fifteen issues: “Thirty-six percent of Democrat-leaning respondents reporting that they worry a great deal about climate change. Only 10 percent of Republican-leaning respondents reported the same level of worry.” Other issues take precedent in peoples’ minds, though at different frequencies depending on party affiliation. The overall census dictates that “Republicans tend to be more concerned about economy and government, while Democrats tend to be more worried about social issues.”
The Democratic Senate recognizes that global warming is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Although they would like to pass a new legislative bill, they know that it does not have a chance of being accepted in the present divided congress, where lawmakers in the Republican-majority House, deny scientific evidence that human actions are largely to blame for climate change.
The Republican Senate Minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a state where coal is crucial to the economy, was fiercely critical of the Democrats’ session. “Families are losing work because of government attacks on the coal industry. Communities are hurting,” he said in a statement. “And tonight you’re going to hear 30 hours of excuses from a group of people who think that’s O.K. Well, it’s not O.K. It’s cruel to tell struggling coal families that they can’t have a job.” Apparently, McConnell seems to think that profiting from the destruction of the environment, is more important than the health and well-being of the planet, and future generations.
Democratic climate caucus members want to raise the urgency of global warming in hopes that the political landscape will shift enough that a bill could pass. The fifteen hour climate change overnight meeting was “aimed toward the day when something more concrete can be legislated,” said Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, a veteran of climate and clean-energy policy battles.
At the fifteen meeting, Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) referenced recent severe weather activities, and stated that climate change is a politically urgent issue. “Climate change is real. It’s here,” said Reid. Those who ignore it do not “have a valid point of view, They don’t,” he added.
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