- Author: Shelly Leachman
Reposted from the University of California newsroom
Just how far apart are Republicans and Democrats when it comes to views on climate change? Not all that far, as it turns out. They're just too party-focused to notice.
That's according to scientists from UC Santa Barbara and the University of Colorado Boulder in new research just published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Surveying 2,000 adults, the research team found that, across party lines, there is general agreement that climate change is real, that it is caused by human activity and that something should be done to mitigate it.
The study further reveals that people are more likely to support the same climate policy proposal when they think that their own political party supports it — and that both Democrats and Republicans overestimate how much their peers oppose the ideas of the other party.
“Democratic and Republican citizens alike evaluate a carbon tax or cap and trade policy based on who proposed it — above and beyond their thoughts on the details of the policy, or on whether it is consistent with their beliefs about the importance of climate change,” said David Sherman, a UC Santa Barbara professor of psychological and brain sciences and senior author on the paper. “They do this despite stating themselves that policy considerations should be more important than partisanship.”
Added lead author Leaf Van Boven, a psychology and neuroscience professor at CU Boulder, “We found that people routinely place party over policy and disagree for the sake of disagreeing.”
Disagreeing for the sake of disagreement
For their project, Sherman, Van Boven and Phil Ehret, who just completed his Ph.D. in social psychology at UC Santa Barbara, set out to explore the psychological reasons that — despite warnings about economic, social and humanitarian impacts of climate change — U.S. lawmakers have yet to enact a national policy.
Previous studies and conventional wisdom suggested this was primarily because most Republicans are skeptical of climate change.
So the researchers conducted two studies in 2014 and 2016 with diverse national panels of over 2,000 U.S. adults, asking: Is climate change happening? Does it pose a risk to humans? Is human activity responsible? And can reducing greenhouse gas emissions reduce climate change?
Sixty-six percent of Republicans, 74 percent of Independents and 90 percent of Democrats said they believed in human-caused climate change and the utility of reducing greenhouse gases.
“Just before the presidential election when most Republicans were voting for Trump, who characterized climate change as a ‘hoax,' they nevertheless expressed a belief in climate change,” noted Van Boven.
Policy is nearly irrelevant
As part of the 2014 study, the researchers showed participants one of two proposed policies. One was a cap-and-trade policy that historically has been championed by Democrats. The other was a revenue-neutral carbon tax based on policies recently advocated by Republicans. Participants were told that 95 percent of Republicans and 10 percent of Democrats supported the policy, or vice versa.
Regardless of the content, Democrats supported policies from Democrats more strongly, and Republicans supported policies from Republicans more strongly. “If you want to know who will support a climate policy, just look at which political party supports it,” Ehret said. “Climate change belief alone is not the whole story.”
In a related study of 500 people, co-authored by the same researchers and published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, the authors used actual language from a proposed climate change policy that was part of ballot initiative I-732 in Washington State in 2016.
The researchers highlighted either Democrats or Republicans who genuinely supported or opposed the policy to the study volunteers and found similar results.
“What is more, people anticipate that others, their fellow Republican and Democratic citizens will be even more polarized and influenced by political party than they actually are,” Sherman said. “This creates a false norm of consensus and unanimity within each party that, for example, other Republicans will reject any policy proposed by Democrats. This perception of within-party unanimity makes it very difficult to cross party lines.”
In a unique contribution of their paper, the researchers also interviewed four retired members of Congress who have worked on environmental issues: Mickey Edwards, R-Okla., Robert Inglis, R-S.C., David Skaggs, D-Colo., and Tim Wirth, D-Colo. All four reported that as climate change became closely associated with Democrats, Republican disagreement increased.
“If you were interested in supporting climate change, that meant you were interested in supporting Al Gore,” Wirth told the researchers. In his interview, Edwards said, “Nobody wants to be an outlier — nobody.”
This distrust of the other side, combined with a false assumption that the two parties sharply disagree has made it difficult for good, bipartisan ideas to gain traction, according to the researchers.
“One of the foundational insights of social psychology is the under-appreciated influence of social norms and that actions are determined more by perceptions of norms than the actual norms,” Sherman said. “It is crucially important for lawmakers and voters alike to be informed about what others actually think about environmental issues such as climate change.
“There are many reasons the media focuses on differences between partisans,” he added, “but our work shows why it is important to highlight this strong consensus as well as the even stronger consensus that citizens should evaluate policies on their details and impact and ability to address problems, and not based on which party proposes them.”/h3>/h3>
- Author: Kat Kerlin
Reposted from UC Davis News
With nearly 9 million acres burned this year across the nation, 2015 is shaping up to be one of the most destructive wildfire seasons yet in a decade strung with devastating fire seasons. And with drought and climate change, wildfires are only predicted to get worse.
At a time when forest fires are predicted to grow throughout the West, national forest managers, policymakers and the public currently have unique opportunities to reform wildfire management. (U.S. Army/photo)
In a commentary published Sept. 17 in the journal Science, a team of scientists led by a UC Davis affiliate describe unique opportunities and suggestions to reform forest fire management to lessen the impacts of inevitable wildfires in future years.
In the U.S., 98 percent of wildfires are suppressed before reaching 300 acres. Yet the 2 percent that escape containment account for 97 percent of fire-fighting costs and total burned area, the paper said.
The current funding structure for fire management encourages that imbalance. The authors write that, for individual national forests, “fire suppression is steadfastly financed through dedicated congressional appropriations,” which are supplemented with emergency funding. However, funding for fuels reduction and prescribed burns comes out of a limited budget allotted to each national forest and is often borrowed to cover suppression costs.
‘Management reform has failed'
The recently released National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and the U.S. Forest Service's current efforts to revise national forest plans provide incentives — and distinct opportunities — for change. Most of the 155 national forests will begin writing new plans and holding public forums within the next 10 years.
Further, public resistance to controlled fire management, such as objections to smoke and negative perceptions of forest fires, is starting to change.
This growing public and congressional awareness of the problem is placing additional pressure on state and federal agencies to better manage forests and fire. The authors said this kind of support is needed to enact true change — not just at the policy level but also with actual wildfire response.
“Management reform in the United States has failed, not because of policy, but owing to lack of coordinated pressure sufficient to overcome entrenched agency disincentives to working with fire,” the authors write.
The paper suggests that change come in the form of more prescribed and managed burns, increased thinning, and less suppression. The authors point to Parks Canada, which divides the landscape into different zones for fire management.
For example, U.S. forest plans could:
- Use mechanical thinning and suppression near homes;
- Use prescribed fire and mechanical treatments just outside of the wildland-urban interface;
- Allow more remote lands to burn as managed wildfires when naturally ignited and use prescribed fires.
Additional authoring institutions include UC Berkeley, University of Washington, The Wilderness Society, Northern Arizona University, and the U.S. Forest Service.
- Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-7704, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Author: Richard B. Standiford
- Author: Jaime Adler
The Coast Redwood Forests in a Changing California Science Symposium was held June 21-23, 2011 at UC Santa Cruz with just under 300 registrants in attendance. Participants ranged in background from graduate level students to university forestry faculty, land managers, and conservation groups, public agencies, and land trust members. The symposium was strategically held in Santa Cruz, near the Southern end of the redwood region. Designed to present the state of our knowledge about California’s coast redwood forest ecosystems and sustainable management practices, this symposium was built on earlier redwood science symposia held in Arcata, CA in June, 1996 and in Santa Rosa, CA in March, 2004.
Seed funding for the Symposium was from the University of California/California State University competitive grant program. Rick Standiford of UC Berkeley, Doug Piirto of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and John Stuart of Humboldt State Univeristy served as the three co-chairs of the symposium.
Link to Proceedings
The Proceedings were produced as a General Technical Report of the USDA Forest Service It is available on-line as well as a limited number of printed copies from the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station. The entire Proceedings or individual papers can be downloaded by clicking HERE. The full citation for the Proceedings is:
Standiford, Richard B.; Weller, Theodore J.; Piirto, Douglas D.; Stuart, John D, technical coordinators. 2012. Proceedings of coast redwood forests in a changing California: A symposium for scientists and managers. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-238. Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 626 p.
Field Tour Information
The first day of the symposium consisted of two simultaneous field tours, one to the North County and one to the South County. The North County tour focused on active redwood timber management on corporate ownerships operating under the unique policies that dictate decision making on the central coast, and Cal-Poly’s forest management and research at its Swanton Pacific Ranch. It also included, a brief tour of the Big Creek Lumber Company sawmill and a visit to areas burned in the more than 7,000 acre Lockheed Fire of 2009. The South County tour traversed the range of redwood forest conditions from the old growth of Henry Cowell State Park and the uncut 120 year old young growth of Nisene Marks State Park to uneven-aged young growth stands established by individual tree selection harvesting on non-industrial forestlands.
Opening remarks started the second day of the symposium and began the academic concurrent sessions. Local historian Sandy Lydon spoke about the special history of the redwoods in the region, recounting stories from his boyhood about roaming through the forests and giving a brief synopsis of the settlement of the area. Steve Sillett, Humboldt State University forestry professor, described his experiences climbing the redwoods and his discoveries in the redwood forest canopy ecosystems, as well as his findings on tree growth from dendrochronology measurements. Ruskin Hartley, Executive Director and Secretary of Save the Redwoods League, called on the audience to set “audacious goals and collaborative actions.” He maintained that nature does not develop boundaries and that in moving forward, we should focus on a shared set of goals and that public and private land should progress simultaneously. Concluding the session, Ron Jarvis, Home Depot’s VP of sustainability talked candidly about the role of environmental sustainability practices and policies as part of the home improvement retailer’s business model. He noted that when he began in the sustainability department he undertook a two year long project to understand where every sliver of wood from over 9,000 products originated to ensure sustainable wood practices.
Over 75 concurrent oral presentations were showcased over two days, pertaining to the topics of: Ecology (15 presentations); Silviculture and Restoration (11 presentations); Watershed and Physical Processes (22 presentations); Wildlife, Fisheries, Aquatic Ecology (10 presentations); Forest Health (10 presentations); Economics and Policy (6 presentations); Monitoring (7 presentations). In addition, almost 40 posters were displayed during the evening reception, ranging in topic from post-fire response, to long-term watershed research, and community forestry models. Held outside on the warm Santa Cruz evening, participants enjoyed a strolling dinner and networking with colleagues, making the reception a highlight of the symposium.
Conclusions and Summary
The symposium concluded with closing remarks about the future of research in the redwood region from John Helms, UC Berkeley and Mike Liquori, Sound Watershed. In addition, a panel including Dan Porter, the Nature Conservancy, Lowell Diller, Green Diamond, and Kevin O’Hara, UC Berkeley discussed the interface of research, management, and conservation. The overall discussion led to the conclusion that academic research and applied research should be made available to the field as a whole as findings progress and that more opportunities for networking and interactions should be made available to the forestry community.
Overall, the symposium fulfilled its purpose to identify key knowledge gaps, bring together multi-disciplinary teams, and help identify future opportunities for collaboration. Participants were pleased with the presenters and research shown. Many noted that a highlight of the symposium was being able to meet and interact with others whose works they had previously cited in their own research. Of the approximately one half of participants who completed the follow-up survey, 100% hoped to see more events like the 2011 Redwood Symposium.
- Author: Jaime Adler
June 21-23, 2011
University of California, Santa Cruz
Policies and strategies guiding the use and management of California’s coastal ecoregion are dependent on objective scientific information. Attention to this region has increased in recent years. At the same time, much new information has been collected. Each year the array of decisions affecting lands and natural resources in the redwood region carry more weight; evidence the recent interest in watershed assessment, fish and wildlife recovery efforts and silvicultural changes. This symposium is part of a continuing effort to promote the development and communication of scientific findings to inform management and policy decisions.
The symposium is intended for anyone involved in the research, education, management, and conservation of coast redwood systems. This includes RPFs, landowners and managers, community and conservation groups, land trusts, and policy makers.
Poster abstracts are still being accepted!
Register before fees increase! (On May 21st fees increase $50. On June 21st fees increase an additional $50.)
For more information or to register, please visit http://ucanr.org/sites/Redwood/