Political Polarization Over Climate Change Isn’t as Bad as You Think

December 15, 2021

Do you hesitate to talk politics with friends or family during holiday get-togethers? Do you worry that talking about climate change will trigger an uncomfortable political flap? If so, then read this short piece in the Triple Pundit newsletter:

Political Polarization Over Climate Change Isn’t as Bad as You Think

It summarizes the findings from America in One Room, a program of Stanford University’s Center for Deliberative Democracy and nonprofit partner Helena.

From the Executive Summary:

America in One Room: Climate and Energy was the largest controlled experiment with in-depth deliberation ever held in the US. It addressed the question: What would the American public really think about our climate and energy challenges if it had the chance to deliberate about them in depth, with good and balanced information? If the American people—or in this case, a representative sample of them—could consider the pros and cons of our different energy options, which would they support? Which would they cut back on? What possible paths to Net Zero would seem plausible to them? Which proposals would they resist? Can the public arrive at solutions to our climate and energy dilemmas that transcend our great divisions, especially our deep partisan differences? Can they also find common ground across differences in age, race, and region?

America in One Room found that, if people from all points on the spectrum were allowed the space to have in-depth deliberation about the problem and the solutions, they tended to move in the same direction. The results show the U.S. converging across states, political parties, age, and income in support of action to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that Americans would be able to achieve greater consensus on climate and energy policies if they had access to accurate information and an opportunity to discuss and weigh competing positions.

So this month, as you gather with family and friends, know that conversation about climate action can be welcomed as positive and productive — not political and polarizing. 

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