Young Voters on Climate Deniers: ‘Ignorant, Out of Touch, Crazy’

A new poll says that 66 percent of young Americans, aged 18 to 34, understand the threat of climate change and that it needs to be addressed.

Los Angeles demonstrators march during this past February's Forward on Climate rally, which called on President Obama to take strong action on the climate crisis. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

Jul 26, 2013· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

Say what you will about us millennials—we’re a wilting bouquet of narcissistic, socialistic, overeducated, underemployed, tatted-up hipsters who still live at home—but, from this day forward, don’t you dare say we’re climate change deniers.

A strong majority (66 percent!) of young independent voters, ages 18 to 34, accept as dogma that man and his dirty deeds are causing, and will continue to cause, climate change—this according to a study conducted by a bipartisan pair of political strategy groups for the League of Conservation Voters.

“As a Republican party strategist I believe that Republican candidates, Republican elected officials, need to find ways to demonstrate tolerance and understanding of what a young generation of voters need to see occurring,” said Greg Strimple of GS Strategy, to The Guardian.

Climate Progress has a nice breakdown of the study’s broad strokes:

—Among those unfavorable to the president, 56 percent still supported him taking action on climate change.

—79 percent said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who supported taking action on climate change; 73 percent say they were less likely to vote for someone who opposed climate action plans like the president’s.

—It wasn’t just Democratic respondents who thought climate change deniers were out of touch: 74 percent of Independents and 53 percent of Republicans used the words “ignorant, out of touch, or crazy” to describe deniers.

—Only 26 percent bought the argument that action on climate change would kill jobs, while 65 percent said they thought taking action on climate change would create jobs.

So this is wonderful news, right? Maybe, maybe.

Battle-scarred by lost climate fights of yore—the 2009 defeat of Waxman-Markey still stings—I’m cynical about these kinds of studies. And not just because of the notion that “people will tell pollsters anything to get off the phone.”

We millennials, we like to think we’re cool and hip, part of the in crowd, and that we’re at least sitting at the cool kids’ table.

And so when a pollster calls us and asks us questions about being against climate change—it means we’d have to be against settled science, against saving ourselves and our future, which means we’d have to side with eight shades of crazy.

But we’re not stupid. We know climate change is real—that it isn’t, as some deniers have said with a straight face, caused by dinosaur flatulence and rain dances.

So I worry if, when polled, these young Americans simply decided to sit at the cool table? That they didn’t want to admit they’re against climate change, and that they’re for insanity.

Will young voters actually make climate change the deciding issue when picking a candidate? Will young Republicans ever actually cross the aisle to vote for a Democrat because their candidate is firmly anti-science? Will young, self-identified Democrats in coal-loving, Blue Dog districts actually vote for a green, progressive candidate in the primary?

Come the 2014 midterm elections, will any of these young voters actually vote the way they told a pollster they would in July 2013?

Stay tuned.