It's helping them win the "spin" war on climate change regulations:
These results actually suggest a somewhat more profound relationship than Egan and Mullin identified from local data; each increase in average US temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit is associated with a 2.8 point increase in the percentage of Americans who expect to see the effects of global warming by the end of their lifetimes. Although we should caution against overinterpreting this data since we have only ten observations to work with, the relationship is nevertheless statistically significant at the 95 percent level. (A further caution: the effect decreases to 2.0 points if the discontinuous 1997 data point is dropped and the statistical significance drops to 85 percent).It's not an accident they concoct "discussion" like this. It's smart politics on their part, and our own failure if we lose the framing on this one, especially, as Silver writes, at a time when there is a lot of opportunity for progress. We're losing this one by playing it smart, while they aren't above going bat-shit. Do we stoop to their level in a means justify the end approach, or will the intelligence of the average voter (outside of Texas and Oklahoma, of course) prevail? It's nice to see that a google search for "Sutherland Institute Earth Week" returns links to our "who's who" keepin'-em-honest posts, but nationally that isn't always the case. Consider the latest utter b.s. from Rob Bishop on the shaky report from Italy on green jobs. People take him seriously, and he's not above whoring his reputation citing a bad study, apparently, to push the meme. Should advocates for responsible regulation be willing to do the same, or do we just keep hold of the high ground on this one?
It may seem implausible that Americans can remember discrepancies in average temperatures of as little as a degree or two, and even more so that it will affect their perceptions about global warming to a material degree. Something of a cottage industry has emerged on the right, however, to treat any period of below-average temperatures, even of a few days, as a point of evidence that global warming concerns are exaggerated. Meanwhile, normally fair-minded and intelligent conservatives like Michael Barone use weasel-worded phrases like "temperatures actually haven't been rising over the past decade" while skirting over the fact that temperatures throughout the last decade have been significantly higher than in the past (each of the last 11 years has each been associated with above-average temperatures in the United States, although 2008 was only barely so). Nor are conservatives like Barone likely to mention that temperatures were above average in 2008 almost everywhere BUT the United States and Canada [...]
Barone further suggests that a belief in global warming "has taken on the character of religious faith" for "liberal elites". If he is arguing that liberals take science as seriously as conservatives take God, then I suppose we should take that as a compliment. At the same time, the fact that Barone, or Matt Drudge, or Fred Barnes, or (more notoriously) George F. Will treat climate change as yet another bit of truthiness to be passed through the spin cycle is something which should both appall and alarm liberals: the former because nothing is a surer sign of the conservative elite's capacity for intellectual dishonesty, and the latter because perceptions about climate change are literally as fickle as the weather, and liberals are losing ground in the spin war at the very time they have the opportunity to advance serious policy reforms to mitigate it.