Prairie Dogs, © Scott Carr / National Geographic Stock

Can We Talk? A “Green” Swing Vote Means We’re Ripe for a Climate Change Conversation

The first step to solving a problem is talking about it, and it looks an awful lot like Americans are ready to listen.

A University of Texas-Austin poll found that 70% of the public believes that climate change is happening, up from 65% in March.  A 2011 Stanford study showed that when given a choice between three hypothetical Senate candidates with different stances on climate change, 77% of those polled chose the candidate that recognized climate science and called for action.  This data shows that climate change is becoming more accepted, more of a concern, and more important than ever to bring to the fore of any discussion of the future of our country.  So why aren’t we hearing more about it?

To achieve real, lasting climate change solutions, we need to get everyone in on the conversation, including our elected officials.  (Photo: Garton Gary)

Defenders of Wildlife and people of every political stripe who value our natural heritage have been perennially frustrated by elected officials’ refusal to take a stand on climate change, or even mention it at all in past years.  But these officials may be missing out, because times have changed.  Yale and George Mason University conducted a recent survey comparing voter behavior to climate change opinion.  (Both schools have excellent climate change communication programs.)  The results?  Independent voters are going green.

Over half of undecided voters believed that global warming is important, and 68% of undecided voters thought the United States should combat global warming.  The majority of undecided voters believed that both the president and Congress need to do more about climate change.

What’s really interesting about this data is that these surveys were taken before the disastrous weather events we experienced this summer: the crippling droughts in the Midwest, the disastrous wildfires in Colorado, and freak storms across the nation (including the derecho storm that left thousands of people without power right here in Washington).  It’s probable that folks are more concerned about climate change than ever before.

So there’s no better time for candidates on both sides of the aisle to think of climate change in a new light and start working together on solutions that will get carbon dioxide emissions under control, make use of clean energy options and help our world adapt to a changing climate.

Here at Defenders, we fight for meaningful policy action on climate change, which is already impacting wildlife in the United States and around the world.  Wild animals have no way to protect themselves or escape from floods or wildfires.  They have no say in our elections.  It’s up to the American public to drive the conversation and demand that our politicians do something about climate change.  The time to talk-and act-is now.


To learn more about what Defenders is doing to fight climate change, click here.

For an in-depth look at why wildlife is vulnerable to climate change, click here.