Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

John J. Pitney, Jr.

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© 2021 Williamson C Grassle


In the mid to late 20th-century, climate change and other environmental issues were addressed on a bipartisan basis, with Republican politicians like President Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush supporting and advancing measures to combat climate change. However, since the 1990s, climate change has become increasingly polarized, with significant polarization in the last decade. This paper dives into the causes behind climate change's politicization and polarization and what the future holds for bipartisan agreement by analyzing peer-reviewed articles, campaign contributions, news stories, political archives, and past interviews with climate experts. The analysis finds that the polarization has been driven by numerous factors, including oil and gas industries funding of climate change denialism, the political realignment of voter geography, the tea party movement, and Trump's war on science. Political polarization on climate change has peaked in 2021; however, there are promising signs for future bipartisan agreement to combat climate change. The financial sector is becoming much more environmentally conscious in their investments, including those towards the energy industry, leading to a more responsive and responsible oil & gas industry. The young GOP is also significantly more receptive to climate change measures, pushing the party to adopt free-market solutions to combat climate change.