The Day the Earth Stood Ill

Ask yourself: how many Trump voters will be watching the National Geographic Channel tonight?

As much as we’d like to believe that political polarization isn’t as bad as it really is, let’s face it, tonight’s premiere of the second season of Years of Living Dangerously and the Leonardo DiCaprio-produced documentary Before the Flood is a strictly blue-state affair. To the extent any Trump supporter tunes in, it will be to mock and ridicule the climate-concerned celebrities involved.

As it turns out, when it comes to climate, not even the Pope can inspire trans-partisan hope:

The pope’s call for action on climate change has fallen on closed ears, research suggests.

A study by researchers in the US has found that right-leaning Catholics who had heard of the pope’s message were less concerned about climate change and its effects on the poor than those who had not, and had a dimmer view of the pope’s credibility.

“The pope and his papal letter failed to rally any broad support on climate change among the US Catholics and non-Catholics,” said Nan Li, first author of the research from Texas Tech University.

“The conservative Catholics who are cross-pressured by the inconsistency between the viewpoints of their political allies and their religious authority would tend to devalue the pope’s credibility on this issue in order to resolve the cognitive dissonance that they experience,” she added.

I’m shocked, shocked, that right-wing Catholics, strung out on the twin opiates of wingnut radio and Fox News, would look at Laudato Si and say, “See ya!” Right-wing Catholics, like their ultra-conservative evangelical Christian brethren, simply choose not to care about future generations and their welfare.

Speaking of ultra-conservative evangelicals, perhaps it’s time to abandon the notion that this cohort can be cajoled into the concept of creation care. There is a longstanding fantasy among some climate activists that with just the right amount of persuasion, right-wing Christians can be converted into climate hawks. This is nonsense. In order for such right-wing Christians to accept the reality of human-caused climate change, they would have to accept the political reality that any serious effort to address the climate crisis requires a reconsideration of their support for a political party that is only “pro-life” until a woman gives birth, at which point that party stops caring about whether the new mother can raise her child in a stable climate. Will they accept that political reality?

Not a chance in hell.

I don’t gainsay the efforts of DiCaprio and the producers of Years of Living Dangerously. The first season of Years, which aired in the spring of 2014 on Showtime, was flawless television; the series did what so much of the mainstream media will not do–tell the story of the climate crisis clearly and comprehensively, focusing on those who will be disproportionately impacted by the consequences of carbon pollution. Years was indeed an accomplishment…but you can probably count on one hand the number of Republicans who watched that first season.

Vox’s David Roberts recently observed:

The key obstacle to climate policy in the US is the Republican Party, whose climate science denial and lockstep opposition to climate action are unique among major political parties in the developed world. Theories of political change must begin with that unpleasant reality and address what to do about it…It may be that sufficient climate action will have to wait until the American right has a serious change of heart on climate change.

The way things are going, most of us might drown before that happens.

NOTE: National Geographic Channel is posting DiCaprio’s film for free online until November 6, so Republicans have no excuse not to watch:

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.