- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2008

Blue may not be greener than red: Political affiliation does not dictate environmental conscience.

While Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to fret over global warming, they perform only 15 percent more of those virtuous “green” activities than Republicans, according to a George Mason University study released yesterday.

And those activities are bona fide tree-hugger fare: recycling, curbing home energy use, flying less and eating organic food.

“People on both ends of the political spectrum were engaged in about the same number of environmental actions,” the study said.

It found that staunch respondents from both parties were equally inclined to “have a simpler life that uses less products,” — a philosophy favored by 33 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of Democrats. They were also in agreement over using less energy for air conditioning, lights and heat at home, a practice adopted by 65 percent of both sides. And yes, the Republicans apparently are aware of kasha and soy milk.

The study found that 18 percent of Republicans buy organic food compared with 20 percent of Democrats.

Democrats are decidedly more dramatic about climate disasters. Asked whether “global warming is a threat to all life on the planet,” almost three quarters — 73 percent — of them agreed, compared with 33 percent of Republican respondents. Six of 10 Democrats said they were afraid, a feeling shared by fewer than a quarter of Republicans.

Americans in general are somewhere in the middle. Overall, 57 percent agree global warming threatens life on Earth while 43 percent say they are alarmed about it.

“These data tell us that in some important ways, climate change is not the partisan issue we see every day in the media, said Ed Maibach, director of the Center of Excellence in Climate Change Communication Research on campus, billed as the nation’s first research center devoted exclusively to addressing “communication challenges” associated with global warming.

Democrats, meanwhile, also were more inclined to blame humanity for climate woes, “punish” companies with bad environmental records through boycotts or other means and remind others to be “environmentally conscious,” the study found. Almost a third of the Democrats also said they voted for political candidates based on their stance on environmental issues compared with 12 percent of the Republicans.

The topic invites alarmist and even erroneous coverage in the press. University of Alabama weather scientists, for example, recently took Newsweek to task for featuring a cover story critical of those who doubt the veracity of global warming. The researchers publicly accused the magazine of using dated — and wrong — information, deeming the coverage “troubling.”

The survey of 11,758 adults was conducted by mail in May and June with a margin of error of one percentage point.

HOW GREEN IS MY PARTY?

Democrats may worry plenty about global warming, but they don”t necessarily practice more “green” activities than Republicans do, according to a George Mason University survey of 11,000 adults released yesterday.

33 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of Democrats say global warming is a “threat to all life on the planet.”

24 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Democrats say global warming scares them.

54 percent of Republicans and 23 percent of Democrats say the press exaggerates the dangers of global warming.

12 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Democrats vote for candidates with the “best environmental records.”

65 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats use less energy at home.

55 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Democrats recycle at home.

50 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of Democrats buy energy-efficient appliances and insulation.

41 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats drive less or use a fuel-efficient car.

33 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of Democrats have a “simpler lifestyle that uses less products.”

18 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Democrats buy organic food.

22 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of Democrats fly less.

Source: George Mason University

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