Districts Most Endangered by Climate Change Still Represented by Science Deniers

An irony of climate change denial: Many of the places in America that will be most severely affected by climate change are represented by Republican science deniers.


[Rep. Cory Gardner’s] home turf, one of the 10 largest congressional districts in terms of agricultural area, will likely face a temperature increase of more than 8 degrees Fahrenheit and a more than 9 percent drop-off in precipitation by 2100—among the most extreme projections for the country.

That’s according to analysis from a forthcoming peer-reviewed study in the journal Ecosphere by Brady Allred of the University of Montana and colleagues. Allred’s study looked at political representation, agricultural and natural-resources land cover, and projected climate disruptions across the nation’s 435 U.S. House districts. The researchers discovered that the districts with the most agriculture and natural resources are predominantly represented by Republicans who, like Gardner, generally deny the science of global warming. Those districts also likely face the most severe climate changes.

Which you might be tempted to write off as a bit of Darwinian justice, if it were not for the expected impact on national food supplies. That will affect the whole country, not just those rural districts.

But what's to be done about it? That's still the stumper. The persons who continue to deny the climate is changing even as it begins to change—will they be singing the same tunes when temperatures have shifted upwards four degrees? Six? Eight?

“If your starting point is ‘I don’t think human-made climate change is an issue,’ there’s really no room for communication about how it’s going to impact you locally,” says Michele Betsill, a political science professor at Colorado State University. “It’s sort of a blinder.”

For his own part, Rep. Cory Gardner will become Senator Cory Gardner in January, so his own waffling on whether anything ought to be done about climate change has served him well.

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