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Fox News
Fox News
5 Aug 2023

New York Times columnist David Brooks recently argued that conservatives and Republicans push to drill for fossil fuels and disagree with liberals on climate change primarily because it’s just their way to "offend the elites."

Brooks made the claim during a recent episode of "PBS Newshour" while remarking on the increasing divide of opinion between Republicans and Democrats on the topic of climate change.

Washington Post associate editor Jonathan Capehart, who joined Brooks on the discussion, added that Republicans won’t help save the planet from climate change because they don’t want to look like they’re giving into the "woke crowd."


Brooks on PBS

New York Times columnist David Brooks explains to PBS Newshour that the GOP spurns the climate change mostly as a way to "offend the elites." (screenshot/PBS)

"Newshour" host Amna Nawaz prompted the discussion by asking both guests why less Republican voters see climate change as a serious threat compared to Democrat voters. 

Addressing Brooks, Nawaz inquired whether this could be because GOP politicians are not alerting their constituents to the severity of the problem, saying, "David, there's a little bit of a chicken-and-egg argument here. Republican candidates aren't talking about it because people don't think it's a threat. But if they talked about it more, would people think it's a threat?"

Brooks affirmed the theory, pointing out that Republican lawmakers were once more willing to talk about and legislate to fight climate change.

He said, "I think so. I'm old enough to go back to John McCain and Lindsey Graham 20 years ago, who supported — who proposed a big climate change bill. Back then, you had Republicans and Democrats both with climate change proposals."

Though he mentioned how the GOP concern about climate change has wilted in the years since, stating, "Back then, there was about a 20-point gap between Democratic views of climate change and Republican. Now it's a 50-point gap."

The columnist then provided his reasoning for why this change occurred, arguing, that "Well, one, everything's more polarized. Two, Republicans are more manufacturing than they used to be."

However, he claimed that the primary reason the GOP has decided to not care about climate change is just for petty political games, not because they have any real counterpoint to the climate change agenda. He said, "And, three, and I think most important, it's just become a sign of political machismo that whatever polite opinion — if polite opinion says A, then we say Z."


climate protest

School children participate in a climate change protest outside the Scottish Parliament on March 15, 2019, in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Brooks added, "And so, ‘drill, baby drill’ is a way to offend the elites." 

He also cited Pew data, saying, "three-quarters of Americans support global climate change treaties, 69 think — percent we should be carbon-neutral, 66 percent support government subsidies for wind and solar. "

The point allowed him to declare that "the Republicans who have taken this extreme position are not only, in my view, going against the science. They're going against pretty large majorities on a bunch of these subissues."

Capehart added to Brooks’ point, claiming that GOP leaders are "so worried about primary challenges and looking like they're bending to the woke crowd that they won't do things that are affecting their own constituents in real time."

The associate editor listed some extreme weather phenomena occurring while the GOP ignores the problem, stating, "And yet, this summer, we have seen spectacular stories, and bad spectacular, the ocean off Florida above 100 degrees, heat domes over various parts of this country, but also Europe and Asia, the wildfires that are turning cities orange because of the smoke blowing from Canada, not to mention the wildfires burning from Portugal to Turkey because of the high temperatures."

Capehart concluded, saying, "So, if the politicians don't think that it's something that needs to be addressed, there are people — their own constituents are living through it right now."

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Gabriel Hays is an associate editor for Fox News Digital.