Climate Denial and Wealthy Republicans: The ‘Rich Idiot’ Effect

Mother Jones: “A new study in the journal Climatic Change has identified a [new]  phenomenon. Call it the ‘rich idiot’ effect: The study finds that among Republicans, as levels of income increase, so does their likelihood of ‘dismissing the dangers associated with climate change.’ But among Democrats and independents, there is little or no change in climate views as levels of income increase or decrease.”

The study, by Jeremiah Bohr of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “looked specifically at those individuals who chose the ‘not very dangerous’ or ‘not dangerous at all’ options. And he found that at the lowest income level, the probability that a Republican would give one of these dismissive answers was only 17.7 percent. But at the highest income level, it was 51.2 percent. Here’s a visualization of the chief finding, showing how the likelihood of a Republican giving one of these answers changes in relation to wealth:”

Probability of dismissing climate change risks in relation to political party affiliation and level of income J. Bohr, Climatic Change, July 2014

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  • Rick Goddard

    We need to start differentiating between the classic Climate Deniers – those that don’t believe the science – and the Climate Apathetic, those that recognize the science but have come to the conclusion that there is no realistic chance of us reversing the effects due to lack of world wide will. There is an argument that says as long as countries, such as India, China, and the other BRIC nations use coal and fossil fuels with wild abandon, there is a very limited effect the US will impart with aggressive carbon dioxide regulations. It may be easier to dismiss the ignorant views of those who believe we aren’t impacting the climate, but the discussion must shift to the question how much our actions will have to truly reverse the damage. Let’s start now.

    • Some_guy_with_something_to_say

      And a corollary: that we would be wiser to spend our money on adapting to inevitable climate change than on a hopeless abatement strategy. Actually a discussion worth having.

    • ml77

      Climate deniers love to blame the developing world for climate change. But the truth is that the US and Europe are responsible for the vast majority of historical GHG emissions. The assumption that China, India, etc. will never reduce their emissions is a dodge. In many areas, China has done more than the US to tackle its climate pollution, and it is possible to discern a strategy whereby China peaks its climate pollution by 2020 and rapidly declines thereafter. How much more would China and the other leading developing countries be willing to do if the US took the lead in aggressively pushing climate action?

      It’s past time to push back on this red herring. The developing world is not a valid excuse for climate inaction.

  • Riveted

    I would agree with that, but it is not actually a denial of the science these rich Republicans are holding to, but more a denial of what it will take in terms of changes to the way we live. Our economy is powered through exploitation, of the environment and of people. Climate change shows the earth is pushing back on exploitation of the environment and forcing us to recognize it can have negative consequences. But the wealthy live short-term and would rather push off changing their wealth-making process to someone else. So they deny the science with stupid dog-and-pony shows like the Heartland Institute’s Climate Denial conferences and spreading misinformation so they can continue accrue their wealth unimpeded.

    • embo66

      This was essentially my thought as well. Some very wealthy conservatives may indeed be this dumb — but I suspect most don’t disbelieve the actual science so much as they dismiss it as a barrier to keeping as much of their wealth as possible.

      Like a lot of rich people asking for H1B visas and STEM training and the like, they’d prefer the government to pay for it all.

  • Erik Q. J.

    Believing in private enterprise, Republicans should look to insurance companies for input on Climate Change. Having no interest beyond proper risk assessment, insurance companies are bracing for a dramatic increase in extreme weather conditions.

    But, of course, that would be sensible, and, importantly, wouldn’t yield the answers they want. Both are deal-breakers for rich idiots…

  • grayjohn

    I have no money, I’m not republican, and I believe that Man Made Climate Chage is the greatest enviro-scam ever perpetrated against the people of the world.
    It is pure, unadulterated BS, backed by BS, spouted by liars whoes only thought is scamming the tax payer out of trillions of dollars. The climate may well change, but the human race has NOTHING to do with it.

  • grayjohn

    You may now arrest me for thought crimes you hipster Orwelian douche bags.

  • RightWay2Truth

    The only thing idiotic is that I would spend anytime reading this loathsome rag! There is no such thing as globull warming only eco terrorism!

    • Art Bagnall

      Drop dead. Creep.

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