Storms Foretell Lawmakers' Votes on Climate Bills
Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Lawmakers are more likely to vote for climate change legislation after freak storms hit their home states or districts, according to a new Harvard University study announced Tuesday that looks at how specific weather events affect the public debate.
While all sides agree that climate change is a long-term phenomenon that is separate from daily conditions that constitute the weather, major storms - or, in places where storms or snow are common, the lack of them - leave many people blaming global warming anyway, according to researchers who tracked people's Google searching.
The correlation extends to Capitol Hill, where the researchers said members of Congress are more likely to vote for environmental legislation after a major storm hits their constituents.
We find that U.S. congressional members are more likely to take a pro-environment stance on issues and votes when their home state experiences unusual weather and search intensity in their home-state is high, Evan Herrnstadt of the University of Michigan and Erich Muehlegger of the Harvard Kennedy School said in their paper.
The two said there's no evidence that weather affects non-environmental legislation, and said the effects on environmental bills are modest in size, and may not change the ultimate outcome of any votes. But they said it is safe to conclude that weather plays a role in determining how members of Congress vote.
The relationship between climate change and individual weather events has long been debated. …