Brits Lukewarm on Climate

A new version of the British Social Attitudes Survey is out. There’s a summary of the key findings of the whole survey, which says in its first bullet point,

 • The British public are not as worried about major global challenges as the experts who work on them. Public concern about the threat of climate change and technology replacing their jobs is relatively low.

On the causes of climate change,

only 36% of people believe that humans are entirely or mainly the cause of climate change. A majority (53%) believe that it is caused equally by human activity and natural processes, while 9% think it is mainly or entirely happening naturally.

and on impacts, we are not that bothered:

Only 25% of people are very or extremely worried about climate change. 45% are just somewhat worried, and 28% are either “not very” or “not at all worried” about it.

The survey also looked at attitudes to work and the economy, social cohesion / division, and of course, Brexit.

Full details of the survey results on climate change are in a separate document. As with most other surveys, they found that older people are less worried than the young.

The proportion of people saying that climate change is mainly due to human activity is lower than in some other surveys, but that’s probably because they were given the option “Equally human activity and natural processes”, which most 53% opted for, as noted above.

Opinions on personal responsibility were pretty lukewarm, with an average figure of 6 on a 10-point scale for feeling personal responsibility to reduce climate change.

When it comes to limiting personal energy use (Table 7), the younger age group (18-34) were the least prepared to do so, despite apparently being the most concerned about climate change!  The same table showed that there was virtually no difference between the AGW believers and doubters with regard to their willingness to reduce energy use.  The report summarises these results thus:

Overall, these findings reveal that, on average people in Britain are only “somewhat worried” about climate change, and they do not feel a strong sense of personal responsibility to try to reduce it.

When asked whether it’s likely that large numbers of people will limit their energy use to reduce climate change, again on a 10-point scale, the average was only 3.8.  Confidence was also low (4.3) on the likelihood of governments taking significant action globally.

The survey also looked at how climate concerns relate to political views, and found a modest connection, with Conservatives and Brexiteers being a bit less worried about climate change. In fact, there seemed to be a stronger link with the Brexit issue than with the Conservative/Labour divide (something that we’ve noted here previously).

The chapter concludes as follows, which must be depressing news for climate activists:

Overall, it appears that Britain is relatively relaxed about climate change, and not strongly divided over it. There are more worried than there are sceptical individuals, but the majority in Britain appears to have fairly middling attitudes towards climate change. They know about it, and acknowledge a human component, but are overall relatively indifferent and apathetic about climate change.






  1. Of course, the whole thing is subjective, since “climate change” is undefined, meaning anything from a buzzword to a complex research issue. From the BSA, we have an interesting insight into how the issue was played by the surveyors. (my caps)

    From the chapter on Climate Change:
    Given the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, it might be considered surprising that still 39% are not fully sure that the world’s climate is changing. The extent to which people are convinced is greater among younger and more educated people. But even among graduates and under-35s, only two-thirds are definite that climate change is happening. Among the over-65s and those with GCSE, equivalent or lower educational attainment, only half think that the world’s climate is changing.

    Causes of climate change

    Successive reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have become increasingly confident that there is a clear human influence on the global climate. Their most recent report emphasises that the WARMING of the climate is unequivocal, and that it is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface TEMPERATURE from 1951 to 2010 was caused by humans (IPCC, 2014).

    While the vast majority (95%) think that climate change is at least in part caused by human activity, it is equally true that a large majority (93%) think that climate change is at least partly due to natural processes. By contrast, the IPCC’s best estimate is that the human contribution to GLOBAL WARMING is about the same as the actual observed global warming.

    The ESS asked respondents, “how worried are you about climate change?” Responses are shown in Table 5. The most popular response was “somewhat worried” (45%). Just over a quarter are not at all or not very worried (28%), and a quarter are very or extremely worried (25%). There is a very similar pattern of responses to a related question asking, “How worried are you that energy may be too expensive for many people in Britain?”. In fact, more people say they are very or extremely worried about the cost of energy (36%) than about climate change (25%).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm. 61% say the climate is definitely changing, and 36% say it is mainly due to humans. The second question was asked of all respondents and definitely not changing was accepted from 2%. It looks well below a majority believing both in the change and human causation. I’m guessing the 36% fall within the 61%, but it was not made clear.


  3. lol, after decades of near total domination of media, academia, and the politics the climate extremists can barely keep their hype alive.
    What an interesting situation.
    If people were exposed to the best of critiques and exposès of extremist poitions and failings imagine what opinion could be.
    There is still hope for reason to prevail and for the climate extremists to be pushed back.


  4. Many thanks for this analysis. Figures are impossible to interpret unless there’s something to compare them with, either previous figures in a survey using the same wording, or figures for subgroups within the survey. As you note, the younger age group (18-34) were the least prepared to limit personal energy use despite apparently being the most concerned about climate change. This tells us something about what it means to be young, (in case we might have forgotten) but not much about attitudes which might influence political decisions.

    The message seems to be that victory for a radical climate policy like the official (and legally binding) one promoted by Climate Change Commissaire Lord Deben, which involves such minor inconveniences a banning petrol powered vehicles, cannot rely on public opinion, but can only be achieved by a radical grassroots movement.

    Now go to any one of the hundreds of blogs recommending such a grassroot movement (most of them financed in the millions by wealthy dead Americans, the European Union, and (for some mysterious reason) the Dutch National Lottery) and manned by dozens of keen young well-paid ecowarriors, and count the number of comments. There are none. They are zombies. No-one cares.

    The last time I looked at a Government Social Attitudes Survey they asked who should benefit from the profits of private companies: shareholders, workers or customers? Just 3% voted for shareholders, suggesting that 97% of the British population are Marxists or anarcho-syndicalists, which I somehow doubt. Similarly, I doubt whether any significant proportion of the population cares the least about a warming of ~ 0.01-0.02°C per year. It’s hot at the moment, but squinting at the thermometer I have difficulty distinguishing a difference a hundred times that.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I had a look through their previous reports on their website, to see if it was possible to do a comparison with earlier BSA surveys on climate change. But it isn’t – most of the previous surveys didn’t cover climate.

    BSA29 (2011) did look at climate change, under the headline of transport, but the questions asked were different, so we can’t really conclude anything about a trend. 3/4 of people ticked “I believe that climate change is taking place and is, at least partly, a result of human actions”, but the only two other options were that climate isn’t changing or that there is no human influence.


  6. Nobody else seems very interested in this. The Guardian has an article about the survey, but it’s all about gender roles and doesn’t mention climate.

    HuffPo Uk does report on the climate findings, leading with One Third Of 18-34 Year Olds ‘Very Worried’ About Climate Change.

    Leo Hickman seems a bit concerned by the relatively low numbers saying it’s mainly or entirely human-caused. But his propaganda outfit Carbon Brief doesn’t mention it, and nor does Climate Home News. I guess it doesn’t fit the narrative.

    GWPF linked to my post and wrote their own, where Benny Peiser says

    “The British Social Attitudes survey is a great reality check. It makes clear that our message that the climate scare has been hyped is getting through to the public.”


  7. The context is that it’s a bit of a rubbish survey.
    They should have used precisely defined terms not ones which were open to interpretation.
    The Greenblob PR teams push 3 narratives
    #1 CC is almost all man made
    #2 It’s an absolute crisis
    #3 We have to act severely right now
    And despite what we though about the education and MSM brainwashing kids
    It seems it has not worked for at least half.

    Compare that against the way the MetroLibEstablishment is almost entirely inline with Greenblob PR

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Are we becoming redundant? Every thing seems to be slowing down: we are not being visited by those that deliberately provoke (some probably being borgs) – are we no longer worth the effort? It’s not just us, other sceptical sites seem to be slowing down as well. Does this indicate the whole climate conflict is taking a break and, until the approach of a new global climate boondoggle, climateball is in a resting phase and apathy reigns?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Alan, maybe Climateball is coming home. Or maybe people are just on holiday, or watching something on the telly, or down the pub, or doing something more worthwhile than playing the pointless game.


  10. Another new survey has just appeared for the US and gives a very similar result.

    Only 34% of Americans think that human activity is primarily responsible for climate change.

    The report, from the University of Michigan, puts a spin on the results, but their graphs show that US opinion has fluctuated a bit but not changed substantially over ten years.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So for most people I think “climate concerns” are just background noise, like religious haranguing on TV or a street corner.
    However, in the case of the “climate concerned” that essentially leaves the public square to the kooky extremists.
    So while the vast majority rightly sees the climate issue as a bunch of nothing, the extremists still have the credibility to get most of whst they want most of the time.
    Which is to say the climate extremists still get rewarded, effectively unchallenged, for their parasitic alarmism.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Francis Menton at Manhattan Contrarian has a couple of recent posts relevant to what people are saying in the comments.

    In The Climate Wars, Two Steps Forward For Every One Back. “Have you noticed that the whole climate issue seems to have mostly disappeared from the news lately?”

    Why “Climate Change” Seems To Have Faded From The News, which is mostly about how the global average temperature has dropped back to where it was before the El Nino.


  13. Have noticed MSM seem to moved on/back to real enviro problems like waste plastic,rather than the earth is burning stories.

    have to wonder if China stopping all imports of our recycled junk/waste from the west woke some people up?


  14. I think most people attribute the recent focus upon plastic waste as an environmental problem to Attenborough’s Blue Planet II. This repeats a similar focus on marine pollution when another TV Series showed pollution (a discarded coke bottle) on the bottom of a deep sea trench.


  15. “(a discarded coke bottle) on the bottom of a deep sea trench.”

    Plastic or Glass bottle?

    and where is the Deep Fried McDonalds trench anyway?


  16. I wonder if some corporate execs are getting lukewarm about climate change. Look at the first quarter results from SSE:

    “The weather across the UK and Ireland has an impact on production of energy from renewable sources (Wholesale), the operation of electricity transmission and distribution businesses (Networks) and the amount of gas and electricity used by customers (Retail). In the three months to 30 June 2018:

    · Hydro output was higher than the same period in 2017, mainly due to higher snow melt in the period. However, hydro output in both Q1-17/18 and Q1-18/19 was below expected levels, with Q1-18/19 around 20% lower than plan.

    · Poorer than average wind conditions in Q1-18/19 have resulted in output from onshore and offshore wind farms being around 15% lower than plan.

    · The temperature in the UK across the 3 months to 30 June 2018 was 1.5 degrees centigrade warmer than the thirty-year average. This led to average domestic gas demand being around 10% lower than plan.

    In addition to dry, still and warm weather, the financial year so far has also been characterised by persistently high gas prices. All of this has resulted in a higher cost of energy, lower than expected output of electricity from renewable sources and lower volumes of energy being consumed.

    This has negatively impacted on SSE’s adjusted operating profit in Q1-18/19 by around £80m, compared with plan, and this will potentially impact on its full year results – dependent on the range of factors that apply in its market-based businesses, in which energy portfolio management is a major influence. ”

    So gas was expensive and wind power did not fulfil its potential. Even worse, they had to use coal for 201 GWh compared with 0 for the same period last year, even though demand for electricity was lower. How will the planet recover from this deadly setback?



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