Belief that the "Second Coming" of Jesus is nigh may be stemming climate change action, according to a study published in the Political Science Quarterly.
The research, conducted by David C. Barker of the University of Pittsburgh and David H. Bearce of the University of Colorado, examined data from the 2007 Cooperative Congressional Election Study to discover that belief in the "end times" reduced a person’s probability of strongly supporting government action on climate change by 12 percent when controlling for demographic and cultural factors.
Furthermore, when the effects of party affiliation, political ideology and media distrust were removed, this number increased by almost 20 percent.
“It stands to reason that most nonbelievers would support preserving the Earth for future generations, but that end-times believers would rationally perceive such efforts to be ultimately futile, and hence ill-advised,” Barker and Bears said, according to the Raw Story.
Such a sentiment was openly expressed by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who, in 2010, said he opposed action on climate change because “the Earth will end only when God declares it to be over.”
A similar study released in Dec. 2012 found that roughly 36 percent of those living in the U.S. pointed to the severity of recent natural disasters, including Superstorm Sandy, as evidence that the “end times” predicted in the Bible were near.
Conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, the study found that 65 percent of white evangelical Protestants held this belief while 75 percent of non-white Protestants said it was both evidence of the end times though a result of climate change.
Such beliefs, Barker and Bearce wrote, will likely affect future policy outcomes.
“That is, because of institutions such as the Electoral College, the winner-take-all representation mechanism, and the Senate filibuster, as well as geographic distribution of partisanship to modern partisan polarization, minority interests often successfully block majority preferences,” they wrote. “Thus, even if median voter supports policies designed to slow global warming, legislation to effect such change could find itself dead on arrival if the media Republican voter strongly resists public policy environmentalism at least in part because of end-times beliefs.”
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