Personal experience of climate change trumps climate denial in red state America. That’s the extraordinary conclusion of a new study that finds Republican lawmakers are vastly out of step with their constituents, the majority of whom believe climate change is real and that the government is right to regulate power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Image © Bill Oswald

According to the Center for American Progress, 58 percent of Republicans in Congress deny climate change or oppose cutting emissions. But the Stanford University study finds that 84 percent of deep-red Texas and 87 percent of Oklahomans accept that climate change is occurring and 66 percent of residents in both states support President Obama’s government efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Stanford social psychologist Jon Krosnick found that for these red-state residents, it wasn’t the science that convinced them to support climate action, but their experience with extreme weather. For example, recent heat waves and droughts in Texas. “Their experience with weather leaves people in most places on the green side in most of the questions we ask,” he said.

The findings could become a political liability for Republican lawmakers in Washington. For example, Texas Representative Joe Barton has in the past called global warming science “pretty weak stuff” and said that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is “absolute nonsense.” Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe has called man-made climate change “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

+ Stanford University State-Level Climate Polling Data

Via The Guardian

Lead image via Jeff Reid