Poll Results: How does religion Influence thinking on Climate Change?

Bobcat Fire seen from Monrovia, CA, September 10, 2020

On Oct 4th, the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) published their report on the role that religion plays when it comes to the topic of thinking about Climate Change.

If you are wondering how they created this then wonder no more. It was done via a survey of just over 5,192 adults living in all 50 states and are part of Ipsos’s Knowledge Panel.

The full report is titled “The Faith Factor in Climate Change: How Religion Impacts American Attitudes on Climate and Environmental Policy”

If you were asked to guess how religion can influence an individuals thinking regarding climate change, and also remembered just how anti-science, anti-vaccine, and anti-mask some of the deeply religious now are, then you can most probably correctly guess the reveal.

One interesting twist is that the introduction within the report does also make these points …

  • Climate Change is real and we are responsible – Good, because it is indeed a fact.
  • Theologically, apparently, we humans have an environmental responsibility, and should be involved in environmental activism – Again Good, because that’s also rather sensible.

Here is how they put it …

The National Association of Evangelicals issued a sweeping report in 2022 that also called on its followers to address climate change, noting a “biblical basis” to “worship God by caring for creation.” Major Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu religious groups and their leaders have also called for environmental activism based on religious teachings.

That all sounds encouraging, until you realise that the rather stark reality of the modern evangelical mindset is that facts are trumped by utter lunacy.

So that naturally leads us to dive into the report.

I’m not proposing to go through the entire report, but instead to pull out 4 key insights.

Insight 1 – The Big Picture

The following diagram sums it all up by splitting responses into 4 distinct categories …

  • Blue: Those that said – Yep, Climate Change is real and it is caused by our fossil fuel emissions.
  • Orange: Those that said – It’s not us and is natural variation, the scientists are all wrong.
  • Red: Those that said – It’s not happening at all
  • Gray: Those that skipped the question

By looking at it visually there are two things that leap out …

  • The white evangelicals once again confirm that many of them are batshit crazy – most reject human caused climate change – close to a third, only 31%, appear to be tethered to reality, but as for the rest, nope, they are off somewhere in Narnia with the talking animals.

The second way to look at this is to not use the specific demographic people identify with (Evangelical, Catholic, etc…), but instead to consider how important they said that religion was. …

  • Here you can also see a trend that is similar to white evangelicals – mostly batshit crazy. While only 39% embrace reality, the rest appear to consider climate science to simply be a suggestion that can be happily ignored and replaced with whatever fiction they prefer to embrace on the basis of no credible evidence at all.

Meanwhile, the really good news here is that overall 61% of the population have indeed decided that the literally millions of subject matter experts from almost every nation state on the planet who have utilised literally mountains of rather robust observational data over many decades are indeed correct.

Good move 61%, give yourselves a round of applause for being sane..

Interestingly enough it is the non religious and also hispanic Catholics who come out top of the league table with the highest 76% blue percentages.

Insights 2 – Slicing and dicing by Political Party and News source yields very predictable results

The old acronym is GIGO … as in … garbage in, garbage out.

So here is the chart that incarnates this reality …

Indeed yes …

  • The party that rejects facts, truth, integrity, and reality … scores a low 28% acceptance … which to be frank is encouraging because a good chunk of them, 28%, are indeed still embracing scientific truth.
  • The Fox News / far Right News consumers of disinformation and toxic lies … well yes, surprise surprise, mostly went for the disinformation and toxic lies as “truth” and so they reject the prevailing scientific consensus.

I’ve skipped the section that gives a breakdown by education and generation. No big variances there except the younger you are or the more educated you are, the more you lean into the science … duh!.

Insight 3 – Climate Change means we are in the end times … according to some

This next one is rather mind blowing … 35% of the entire population think climate change means we are in the Bible end-times now …


Here is a chart that compares the 2014 statistics with the new 2023 numbers …

Overall the encouraging bit here is that it used to be 49% of the entire population, almost half, that thought we were in the end-times “now”, but that has dropped to 35%.

Overall across the board it has dropped. That’s a really good trend.

However the deeply religious still have high numbers.

One odd twist there is that 13% of the non-religious think we are in Bible “End-times”. That’s a weird quirk that is perhaps explained by them being “religiously unaffiliated”, but perhaps still believe, or simply think we are so F**ked now that it might as well be Bible “end-times”.

Insight 4 – Dominionism & Stewardship

This one has a some interesting statistics …

The encouraging bit – no matter how you slice it or dice it, only a minority believe they should impose their religious beliefs upon society.

The weird bit – very high numbers believe that god has given them a role to look after the earth. That’s weird because clearly many of these same people reject the evidence that human are screwing up the planet and also refuse to participate in any form of environmental activism.

Pulling it all together

Insight 1: We have large chunks of the population, especially the religious, rejecting our current scientific reality regarding the climate … but overall it is a minority and not a majority.

Insight 2: Those who live on a constant diet of disinformation are the most susceptible to this, as are those that identify with the political tribe whose badge of membership is the requirement to embrace the big lie and reject facts.

Insight 3: The number of people who simply think that the religious explanation for natural disasters, that we are in the end-times, is rapidly shrinking. It suggests a trend that is leaning away from easy religious answers.

Insight 4: The rather weird statistic is the observation that large percentages feel that God gives believers a role that includes environmental responsibility, yet these same people fail to accept the reality that the climate is being drastically altered by our own actions and that if we fail to act, it will lead to ever increasing waves of environmental catastrophe on a global scale.

In the end, our current climate change reality is not something we get to vote on. It is what it is even if nobody can come terms with it, but thankfully a majority do. That’s the good news here because doing nothing is not a viable option.

Meanwhile …

Are some really in total denial for religious reasons?

Yes indeed.

Here is Pennsylvania State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, a Christian Nationalist, explaining a couple of days ago that Climate Change is not real, and her “evidence” is that Genesis 8:22 states that there will always be seasons therefore its not a problem…

About here is perhaps the right place to proceed to face-palm if you have not already done so.

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