It's going to be hard to solve climate without solving middle-class economics first, by @DavidOAtkins

It's going to be hard to solve climate without solving middle-class economics first 

by David Atkins

There's a depressing Pew poll out among Democrats regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline. The topline number is that 49% of Democrats support building the pipeline, while 38% oppose. It's going to be hard to convince politicians to do the right thing when when a clear majority of even the party's base is going the wrong direction.

But even more salient than the topline numbers are the education and income splits:

Essentially, if you are a highly educated Democrat, you know enough about the consequences of climate change that you're likely to oppose the pipeline. If you are a wealthy Democrat, the jobs argument for building the pipeline is less likely to motivate you.

Democrats with with less income and education are either less aware of the climate consequences, or feel strongly enough about the potential job creation elements that climate concerns are overrided. And, of course, that's just Democrats. This dynamic is even stronger among independents and Republicans.

Unless climate activists are banking on a miracle breakthrough in renewable technology and a massive government green jobs program, it's going to be difficult to get much of anything done on climate without alleviating the economic pressures of the middle class.

As long as oil/gas extraction remains one of the few non-finance private sectors of the economy that can provide reliable jobs, policies that hinder the oil and gas industry are going to remain very tough sells.