As Democrats continue to push for making climate change a top priority, Republican lawmakers have opted to rally behind a president who regularly appears to mock the idea of global warming. But, a recent NPR/Ipsos poll suggests Republican lawmakers' views on climate change may differ significantly from those of their base. According to NPR, two-thirds of Republicans want schools to begin making climate change part of the lesson plan.
In surveying more than 1,000 adults in the United States, the NPR/Ipsos poll found that 49% of respondents who identified themselves as Republicans said they believed "schools should teach about climate change and its impacts on our environment, economy, and society." In comparison, 17% of Republicans said they felt "schools should not teach anything about climate change" while another 17% said "schools should teach that climate change exists, but not the potential impacts."
Across the aisle, however, Democrats were significantly less likely to believe that schools should opt out of teaching anything about climate change. In fact, the NPR/Ipsos poll found a whooping 81% of respondents who self-identified as Democrats said they wanted schools to inform students about the impacts of climate change. In contrast, just 10% of Democrats felt schools should not discuss the potential impacts.
Overall, the poll found that 68% of parents surveyed were in favor of comprehensive climate change education while just 16% preferred lessons not include discussion on potential impacts. Teachers, however, appear to be even more keen on the idea of introducing climate change curriculum. According to a separate NPR/Ipsos poll, 86% of teachers said climate change should be taught in schools — although 12% of those teachers didn't think the impacts of climate change should be included in the lesson plan.
Yet, this isn't the first time a poll has found that climate change-denying Republican lawmakers may be out of step with the majority of their base. A Monmouth University poll published in November 2018, for example, found that 64% of Republicans believed in climate change.
But a number of Republican lawmakers in Congress don't appear to share their bases' viewpoints on climate change. According to an analysis conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, 150 of the 252 Republicans in the 116th Congress do not believe that human activity has significantly contributed to climate change. It's worth noting, however, that, as the Center for American Progress Action Fund pointed out, there are 30 fewer GOP climate deniers in Congress now that the new class has been sworn in.
Perhaps part of the issue is President Donald Trump's own unwillingness to recognize climate change. Although Trump told CBS' 60 Minutes in 2018 that he no longer thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax, he wasn't convinced it was manmade or that it was worth implementing legislation or regulations that might negatively impact the economy. "I don't think it's a hoax. I think there's probably a difference," he said in an October 2018 interview with 60 Minutes. "But I don't know that it's manmade."