Monday, January 4, 2010

Why do parties of the Left believe in climate change?

A few weeks ago I asked why parties of the Right might tend to be more sceptical about climate change. The flipside of this, of course, is why parties of the Left might tend to believe in climate change.

As with that previous post, this is broad-brush stuff. There are some on the Left who are sceptical to a greater or lesser degree, and some who would might agree that climate change is happening but prefer to give priority to other problems, such as poverty or oppression. And "the Left" is often taken to include also sorts of positions, including those such as Liberals and Anarchists who might reject the Left-Right distinction as unhelpful.

But it is clear that many on the Left accept the scientific consensus on climate change, despite a high proportion of sceptics in the general population of many countries. So why is this?

So here are some suggestions...
  • Scientists are more likely to be on the Left than the Right. [I have no idea if this is true. I'd doubt level of education is a factor, but perhaps the well-educated on the Right are more likely to be from humanities backgrounds?]
  • Respect for science. The belief that if any authority should be respected, it should be authority derived from study and research, as opposed to authority derived from birth, wealth or power.
  • Antipathy to capitalism. The story of climate change fits well with a belief that many of the world's troubles stem from the rampant excesses of unrestrained capitalism, particular burning fossil fuels and destroying forests.
  • The need for international cooperation. Coordinated action at international level fits well with a belief that states can do good in a way that can transcend individual actions.
  • The focus on helping poorer nations. It is the poorer nations which will typically be most affected in the short-term by the effects of climate change, through flooding, inadequate infrastructure, dependence on subsistence farming, water shortages and disease.
Any other suggestions?