Framing Climate Change as a Bipartisan Issue

Sean McElwee, writing for The Atlantic, reports that “the environment was once a bipartisan issue.”

“Data from the Pew Research Center show that the decrease in support for environmental protection is not only very recent but also one-sided.”

“Despite that decline, [recent studies show that] Republican support for environmental causes is stronger than it might appear … If Republican voters are concerned about the environment, why haven’t we seen any action?”

“One explanation is that the framing of environmental issues is often anathema to conservatives … Liberals view environmental issues as moral concerns informed by a harm principle, while conservatives view environmental issues through the lens of purity, and particularly for religious people, stewardship.”

“A 2012 study … found that climate campaigns overwhelming frame the issue in terms of harm and care, fairness, and oppression of marginalized groups. These frames fall into what [the study] would consider left-wing frames, alienating conservatives.”

In addition, wealthy, influential elites do not consider the environment a major problem:

“Activists will find more success if they focus on promoting sanctity and responsibility, showing how protecting the environment is economically beneficial and leaving a legacy for future generations.”

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