Our times are, without doubt, very dark times. The darkest specter is that global warming and species extinction may mean the end of the human species or at least most of human civilization. And on top of this, we have a President and a Republican party who seem to be hurrying us along this path. Yet maybe there is one thin sliver of hope.
Our real problem is not Trump. It seems to me that Trump is just a symptom of the real problem. The real problem is the Republican Party. Or maybe it’s that much of the entire American government, both Republicans and Democrats, really does not represent the American people. A majority of Americans has been convinced that global warming is real for at least twenty years. Yet our government can’t bring itself to even talk about this problem. We keep passing points of no return. Almost all American scientists are quite sure that global warming is real, that it is caused by humans, that almost half of all mammals and birds have disappeared in the last 50 years, and that much more serious damage for humans and wildlife is coming in the not too distant future, even in this century.
But there may be a sliver of hope.
This sliver of hope might be that the younger generation of Americans is not like older generations. It is rapidly becoming clear that there are large numbers of younger Americans, both Democrats and Republicans who care much more about climate than their elders.
There was a poll that came out in May of last year that says large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats between the ages of 18 and 38 are convinced that global warming is a serious threat and that something must be done about it. The fact that American young people feel this way is not a big surprise. But the fact that equal numbers, and even larger numbers, of Republican young people think this way is almost unknown.
When it comes to climate change, Republicans and Democrats in this age group may as well be in the same party. Unbelievably Republican young people are sometimes even stronger advocates for green action than Democratic youth.
A September 2019 article in Grist says that a poll that discovered much of this information was done by Ipsos and Newsy. This poll indicates that “Republicans and Democrats between 18 and 38 might as well be in the same party. Any red-vs-blue difference between them “virtually disappears.” The Grist article goes on to say that:
“Millennials and Gen Zers from both parties had strikingly similar responses in the Ipsos survey, which polled roughly 2,000 U.S. adults about their positions on global warming and climate policies in May. Some 77 percent of younger Republicans said that climate change is a serious threat, one percentage point more than Democrats in the same age range. Meanwhile, the survey revealed a deep chasm in opinion among older folks: 51 percent of Republicans over age 39 agreed the problem was a serious threat compared with 95 percent of Democrats.”
”Support for a federal carbon tax, further restrictions on methane emissions, and a national renewable energy standard was virtually identical among both Gen Z and Millennials of both parties, with a gap of 2 percentage points or less on each response.”
This surprising shift ”is supported by another recent survey conducted by Glocalities, an Amsterdam-based polling agency, which concluded that 67 percent of Republican voters aged 18 to 34 are worried about the damage humans are causing the planet — an 18 percent jump in just five years.”
Is it possible that young Americans and Europeans could be the beginning of a real shift In the politics of climate? And let’s not forget that even teenage Americans turn into voting Americans is just a few years. And let’s not forget Greta Thunberg is transforming teenagers and young adults into Green advocates by the thousands, maybe even by the millions.
Maybe the young green Americans are not a large enough group to tip the American election away from the Republicans in 2020, but maybe this shift toward a greener electorate might be a sign of what is coming very soon? Maybe this is a harbinger for a real green wave of the future?
I’m even hearing talk that this change in environmental opinions in young people may end up splitting the Republican Party. The article in Grist that I’ve been quoting from says that “Our overheating planet is splitting the Grand Old Party.”
I am at least optimistic that this small sliver of hope may grow into something real in the coming years of the 2020s. Many progressive people all over the world are desperately in need of some real hope in this dark moment.
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