The continuing cooling of climate change belief

Maybe I’ve just stopped listening, but my impression is that there are many fewer climate change catastrophe stories in the media now than a couple of years ago. This may be contributing to the on-going cooling of belief in the science and politics of climate change which became evident last year.

Today’s Essential Research survey shows that less than half its respondents now believe that climate change is happening and is caused by human activity. However the main shift has been to the ‘don’t know’ category rather than to an option that says weather changes are just normal fluctuations.

This plus already skyrocketing electricity prices make the politics of an ETS diabolical for the Gillard government.
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7/12: As an insomniac Rajat Sood notes, today’s Newspoll shows that question wording affects responses to climate change questions (as does polling methodology – 5% don’t know with a phone poll, 19% with online). What’s not in doubt is that the trend is down however the question is worded (question wording in the Newspoll link; with the exception that the 2008 pay more question opened with ‘under a carbon emissions training scheme’ rather than ‘under the federal government’s plan to to put a price on carbon’.)

11 Responses to “The continuing cooling of climate change belief

  • 1
    Jeremy
    December 6th, 2010 18:28

    A whole quarter of surveyed Greens voters don’t believe in man-made climate change??

    There’s nowt as queer as folk.

  • 2
    Andrew Norton
    December 6th, 2010 19:15

    Presumably people who vote Greens because they don’t like the major parties rather than because they support Green policies.

  • 3
    Rajat Sood
    December 7th, 2010 03:32

    Some more results from today’s Newspoll. It seems professed belief in man-made climate change is very sensitive to how the question is asked (or the pollster’s survey techniques).
    Willingness to pay more for energy is below 50%.

  • 4
    baz 'da ordinary Aussie'
    December 7th, 2010 06:35

    Yep, as I always said, it’s climate change tosh!
    But now, England is covered in snow, our Aussie dams were supposed to be empty 3 years ago (thanks Tim Flannery), climate change models are performing even worse than the weather man!
    What’s going on? The people have had enough, that’s what. So now it’s proven it’s all tosh, let’s take a step back and see what’s happened. Communism proved to be not only rubbish, but downright evil. But then, where were all these inner totalitarians to go? What cloak could they hide under? Ah-ha! They could be feel good greenies!
    But, thank goodness, the people are waking up. And now that we all agree climate change is all bogus, can we stop these efforts to artificially increase our power bills.
    And just on that. Let me tell a little story about the BP oil spill. The liability in the gulf of mexico was about USD75M. Whether you agree or not, that was the playing field. But after the spill, the do-gooders said’no, no, that’s too low. We need to make BP pay!’ So the rules were changed and BP was forced to shell-out $20 bill…or at least make provisions for. So what’s happened since? Well no-one is building in the gulf of mexico anymore. And a month ago, BP divested its Argentine oil rig facilities for $7bill – I’m guessing to get some cash to meet liabilities. Who was it sold to? A consortium made up of the Argentine Gov and a Chinese state owned corp.
    So what’s the short of it? For all our green ranting, all we have achieved is sending off more oil from the free market to the Chinese market, where it will never be seen again….oil consumption aint going down, climate aint changing, we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot.
    In the words of Glen Beck…..time to wake up fellas!

  • 5
    Karl Kessel
    December 7th, 2010 08:03

    The newspoll question is better. It’s interesting that a sizable majority say that climate change is ‘partly caused by human activity’.

    You’ve previously posted a question about how much people are willing to pay, with only about 10% willing to pay more than about $100 per year.

    There is climate policy around that fits with these popular beliefs. Roger Pielke Jnr has an excellent book out called ‘The Climate Fix’ that outlines the idea of a low tax to fund research into getting low C02 emitting energy other than nuclear to be priced similarly to coal. It’s been well received in reviews in The Economist amongst many places. There is also a Wall St Journal op ed by Nordhaus and Schellenberger this week that outlines the same ideas.

    It would be a great policy for a place like the CIS or IPA to look at.

  • 6
    Rajat Sood
    December 7th, 2010 10:33

    Re the $100 per year value, you would probably get different results if you asked about ‘$2 per week’ or ’30 cents per day’. Public opinion on these matters seems to be very anomalous. It could just be hypocrisy. But based on my impressions of how much people give to charities (including street collectors, raffles, etc), I find it hard to understand how people who care at all about man-made climate change would not be willing to spend at least an extra 30 cents per day.

  • 7
    Andrew Norton
    December 7th, 2010 10:46

    Rajat – The figures were actually monthly not yearly; Lowy in 2008 found about a quarter willing to pay $30 a month or more, so $360+ a year. $30 a month is relevant because it was about the average forecast cost of the ETS for a one person household.

  • 8
    Rajat Sood
    December 7th, 2010 13:08

    Thanks, Andrew, that makes more sense. But you inspired me to track down your post on the 2010 Lowy Poll, which refers to >$20 pcm (not $30) and shows only 19% (steady from 2008). It appears the same amount was used in the 2008 version of the question.

  • 9
    Andrew Norton
    December 7th, 2010 13:25

    Rajat – Those results are different from those I published in my Policy climate change article last year (not on CIS website due to quality control issues that continue to plague the Policy section). I will have to check against original sources tonight to clarify.

  • 10
    Andrew Norton
    December 7th, 2010 17:11

    Rajat – I cannot explain the discrepancy. I was using the data Lowy gave to the social science data archive. There are many more categories than given in the report I linked to earlier in the year, but $30 or above gets 23.2% if the don’t knows are excluded and 21.3% if they are included. However this is virtually the same as >$20, as the only intervening option was $25, which attracted only 2 people. Though there were more than 20 price options, people liked round numbers – $0, $10, $20 and $50 attracted 85% of responses between them.

  • 11
    Jeremy
    December 7th, 2010 18:02

    This is not the only political challenge left over from the Rudd years to which Gillard has chained herself.

    Support for the NBN appears to be going soft as well, not least because every time Stephen Conroy talks about it he looks as though he is hiding something.

    Next year should be interesting!