For a significant number of Americans, the reality, causes and meaning of global warming are interpreted through the lens of their religious beliefs.
Some reject the evidence that humans are causing global warming because they believe God controls the climate.
Others believe that global warming is evidence that the world will be ending soon, and that we don’t need to worry about global warming in light of the approaching apocalypse.
These much were revealed courtesy of a recent national survey conducted in March by the George Mason University’s Centre for Climate Change Communication, Fairfax, Virginia in the US.
“At times it seems like the world is awash with apocalyptic and doomsday visions – from teen novels to Presidential campaigns to climate change itself. There are many different types of apocalyptic ideas within and across societies, which we cannot possibly do justice to here,” say the researchers who, in the course of the study, explored a few of these themes in relation to the issue of global warming.
Some highlights of the study were identified to include:
- 16% of Americans believe that “God controls the climate, therefore humans can’t be causing global warming.” This perspective is particularly strong among Tea Party members (37%), evangelicals and born-again Christians (30%), and Donald Trump supporters (28%).
- 14% of Americans say that “Global warming is a sign of the end times.” This belief is particularly strong among evangelicals and born-again Christians (24%), adults who have not completed high school (23%), and biblical literalists – who believe the Earth was created in six days, as described in the Bible, and who do not believe humans evolved from earlier species (20%).
- 11% of Americans say “The end times are coming, therefore we don’t need to worry about global warming.” This belief is particularly strong among evangelicals and born-again Christians (26%), Tea Party members (20%), adults who have not completed high school (18%), and people who do not believe humans evolved from earlier species (18%).
- 9% of Americans think “The apocalypse will happen in your lifetime.” This belief is particularly strong among adults who have not completed high school (20%), evangelicals and born-again Christians (19%), adults with an annual household income of less than $30,000 (15%), people who often watch Fox News (15%), and Hispanics (15%).
According to the researchers, financial self-interest and political ideology have long been understood as motivations leading some people and political leaders to oppose climate action.
“These results suggest that apocalyptic religious beliefs may also play a role in the American response to climate change, at least for some people. Much more research should be done on this topic,” they added.