PAW’s April 2023 edition, The Climate Issue, ignored politics as a major factor blocking any solution to the climate issue. Other universities and the news media have seen and analyzed the political threat. 

The University of Miami published a special report entitled “Politics of (Climate) Change,” in which Joseph Uscinski, a politics professor at Miami, said “in the case of climate change, because the scientific evidence is too plain for them to refute, the Republican Party has gone the route of conspiracy theory, claiming that the scientists must be corrupt, that climate change is a partisan plot.” 

By attacking science with disinformation, Republican politics has stymied policies that can address negative impacts of climate change.

In 2021, The Financial Times published article entitled “How climate change became political” which said, “Whatever your perspective on climate change, it is likely to have been shaped by political culture and the media. For some, though, the subject is now so divisive that even the words ‘climate change’ are controversial. A study by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication in the U.S. found that, in trying to encourage support for climate policies, switching to the phrase ‘extreme weather’ was more effective in winning over American conservatives.” 

Republican politics has rejected even the use of the words “climate change.” Since the Kyoto Treaty in 1997, what had previously been solely a scientific issue became a political issue in by a wave of activity led by a group of companies and individuals in sectors such as oil and gas and coal to avoid restrictions on fossil-fuel consumption. The wave of activity shaped political opinions by investing in universities and think tanks and making political campaign donations. The group was good at what they do because of how sophisticated and elaborate their tools of influence became. 

Unfortunately, PAW did not examine the threat from politics that is blocking a solution to climate change.

William Miller ’66
Issaquah, Wash.