Donald Trump is it appears a climate change denier. He seems to think that concerns about climate change are part of a plot to undermine the American economy, he regards climate change as a hoax. Commentators and pundits who accept that climate change (more accurately described as climate breakdown), rightly decry his attitude seeing as part of a wider refusal to disregard and debunk evidence. This ties in with the views and opinions of a significant number of voters both in the US and UK.
Yet we should not be surprised by this reaction from large sections of the electorate. It is easy to dismiss such views as representing the thoughts and beliefs of those less qualified to judge and evaluate evidence. But this is to make a fundamental error for we already live in a world where evidence based policy making is a myth, where facts are not gathered, collated and assessed but where assertions carry more weight and frequently overwhelm evidence, where evidence is at best partial and frequently misused.
Climate change is one area where in theory polices are designed to deal with it. We know what has to be done. We must reduce emissions. But what do we do? We build more roads, support the extension of air travel, believe that we can consume more and more and that more consumers through population growth are good for the planet!
In Cornwall the ‘Local Plan’ supports encourages and positively admires a minimum of 52,000 or more houses. House building (and not just in Cornwall), is regarded as a means of boosting the economy. Population growth is good. The ‘Local Plan’ is based not on evidence but on assertions used and misused to support a flawed and failed policy of population led growth.
All of this feeds into a general disregard for experts and facts amongst the electorate. The feel that if climate change is a problem how come nobody is actually doing anything constructive? It is easy for people to conclude that perhaps climate change is not really anything to worry about. Many people have a gut feeling that population growth does not actually help them, that housebuilding had nothing to do with housing need but a means of enriching certain groups. Conspiracy theories abound.
In the process evidence is seen at best as flawed at worst a means to manipulate information to meet a pre-ordained goal. Facts are dismissed. Experts decried.
Doubtless there are other factors which feed into this general disregard for evidence, for the views of experts. For too long policy makers have disregarded the evidence is it any wonder that increasing numbers of the electorate now do the same?