The real greenhouse denialists, part four

As media reports of today’s release of the annual Lowy Institute opinion survey noted, the masses may want climate change stopped as a general principle, but there isn’t much that they are prepared to personally do about it. They may not deny the reality of climate change, but they do deny any seriously responsibility for it.

When asked how much they were prepared to pay extra on their monthly electricity bill to help solve climate change, a fifth of Lowy’s respondents wouldn’t pay anything, 32% would pay $10 or less, 20% would pay $11 to $20, and just 19% would pay $21 or more. Those refusing to pay anything is down on the 28% in marginal seats last November according to a Climate Institute survey, but perhaps if the mortgage-belt nature of many marginals were taken into account there would be no real difference between the polls.

Perhaps the more interesting aspect of Lowy’s survey was that climate change had slipped as a foreign policy goal from 75% rating it as very important last year to 66% this year, though global warming as a critical threat to Australia’s interests is more stable at 66% also, down only 2% on the year.

Economic issues seem to be driving this change, with the biggest increase in foreign policy goals being ‘strengthening the Australian economy’, up from 60% to 70%. But given that respondents could if they wanted class every issue as ‘very important’ the drop in ‘tackling climate change’ seems significant.

Perhaps the public is getting bored of the daily prediction of disaster. I may have missed later ads in the government’s climate change advertising campaign (I spent most of the month in Japan), but what I saw before I left was just repeating the same old messages any non-comatose person has already heard hundreds of times before. Something different has to be said to regain attention, such as how much all this is really going to cost Australian consumers.

6 thoughts on “The real greenhouse denialists, part four

  1. Climate Change is almost the perfect political issue. Politicians can appear, take credit for changing the world and feel important but put the bill out into the future.

    Even in Northern Europe, where the belief in climate change is strongest, this is effectively what is happening.

    It takes the focus away from other costly, difficult issues like paid maternity leave (are they polling this now?) and raising the old age pension.


  2. Well to me it is a bit of a mystery why anyone should be WANTING to pay more for their electricity in order to solve climate change. WOuldn’t it be better if they were willing to use less electricity?

    These sorts of questions seem to be mostly about how much the respondent is prepared to self flagellate to feel good about themselves rather than what they are prepared to do to actually reduce their emissions.

    But then a lot of peoples’ reaction to this climate change business seems to be based on guilt for seeming good fortune. Like they must pay for their sins.


  3. I don’t disagree, entropy, but I would add that even decisions to reduce electricity consumption are often about money, though admittedly not about the size of one’s electricity bill. Compact fluoro light bulbs and better insulation all cost money. As for actually going without, I can’t see households giving up creature comforts to save the planet. Who is going to give up air conditioning, 42″ LCD TVs, home computers, and massive ovens and ‘fridges, all of which either did not exist or else consume a lot more power than their equivalents did 20 or 30 years ago? Water restrictions have encouraged public sacrifice, but at least water seems to be a local issue, unlike global warming.
    How about combining this survey question with the one about other countries’ actions? Such as, “How much extra per month would you be willing to pay to reduce your carbon emissions if other countries do/do not make similar efforts?”


  4. The Climate Institute question specified that that extra money was to pay for more expensive renewable energy sources, rather than just an exercise in self-flagellation to show one’s devotion to climate causes.


  5. Well no wonder so many people said no then. A more logical series of questions would have been along the lines of: “So if your electricity bill went up $XX per month, would you reduce your electricity consumption by 30%?”

    BTW I have seen the analysis for SEQ. Solar panels won’t cut it anywhere in the region (not enough sun would you believe), and wind power is only an option at the tip of Cape Moreton (One of the few spots in QLd that actually gets enough wind). The only other area is the north east coast of Cape York, although I suspect that the wind calculations are annual averages, and let’s just say the wind there is probably highly seasonal 🙂

    I am sure the greenies would love a lovely line of wind turbines strung along the top of the ridge of Moreton Island, with associated infrastructure. Almost worth paying for to watch the angst unfold before my eyes.


  6. It’s possible that the survey respondents are right not to feel personal responsibility for climate change. People putting a solar panel on their roof and taking fewer plane flights isn’t going to do anywhere near enough to slow the rate of global warming. It’s a collective action problem, and perhaps people sense this.


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