Following on from the previous post, showing that most people in the UK seem to adopt the Catherine Tate approach to climate change, here are three more new surveys.
University of Michigan
A report from the University of Michigan announces that a record 73% of Americans now think that there is solid evidence of global warming. This number has soared since they started asking the question in 2008, when the figure was only 72%. A massive 60% think that it is at least partly human caused, that’s a stunning 2% up on the 2008 figure. I think many of us climate sceptics would be part of that 60%, especially when you look closely and see that that figure includes the not sures.
The always-clueless Oliver Milman at the Guardian seems to be impressed by these figures.
ABC News / Stanford
Next, another survey of US opinion, just out today, by Langer Research for ABC and Stanford University. The headline here is “Public Backs Action on Global Warming –
but with Cost Concerns and Muted Urgency”.
This survey again shows that public opinion has hardly changed, this time on the existence of climate change, over a period of 20 years:
This study finds that 74% say they are very or somewhat concerned that climate regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could push up prices. Only 27% support raising taxes on electricity, and 35% are in favour of more tax on gasoline. 39% think that global warming will be a serious threat during their lifetime. The authors conclude that there is a general feeling of a lack of urgency:
Three-quarters of Americans express concern that efforts to address the issue will raise prices on things they buy and just two in 10 are very confident that those efforts in fact would reduce global warming. The latter, in particular, contributes to an absence of broad urgency on the issue.
Finally, back home, there’s a new article by Nick Pidgeon, colleague of Adam Corner, at Cardiff University: Public still doubt scientific consensus on climate change.
Only about one third of people in Germany, the UK, France and Norway believe that there is a strong scientific consensus on the reality of climate change, says a major survey of opinions on climate change, climate policy and future energy options among over 4,000 people across those four countries.
Although it’s a new article, I think it’s based on a survey from 2017. Pidgeon still seems to want to “engage people with climate change”, and claims that this is “critical in creating a climate-proof Europe”. He recommends helping people to ‘join the dots’ between extreme weather events like storms and floods and climate change. Presumably Prof Pidgeon ain’t bovvered that the IPCC says
In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.
In the comments, Geoff mentions another new survey, from Gallup, where people in the US were asked the open question “What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?” The results showed that 2% said “Environment/Pollution”, which presumably includes climate change.
It’s one of those puzzles that scientists can continue to talk about the overwhelming consensus on climate change and yet cannot state what the consensus is.
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Aren’t they missing the point? The supposed controversy used to be about whether man was causing the climate to change.
Talk of extreme weather events is just misdirection, to obscure the fact that CO2 increases have failed to correlate with temperature trends in the way they (IPCC) used to confidently predict.
I have done a deep dive into the Stanford climate opinion survey, and it illuminates how professionals can get results. Post is here:
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The framing strategies that you draw attention to in your article are part of a broader application of behavioural psychology to encourage the public into supporting a treasured policy. Using surveys to manipulate the public, and using framing techniques to manipulate the surveys, forms part of the cognitive game.
CAGW sceptics are often accused of being conspiracy theorists but this is quite uncalled for. There is no need for us to suspect covert intrigue – the manipulation actually takes place in broad daylight! In fact, those that are responsible for such antics go out of their way to advertise their presence and what they are doing. It is all laid out in gory detail in Chapter 2 of AR5 for all to see. Note also that the UK Committee on Climate Change is proud to have a professor of behavioural science (Nick Chater) on the team to apply his ‘behavioural insights’ into ‘public policy and business’. I don’t think the likes of Nick Chater see their manipulation as a necessary evil. Instead, they think they are using their very clever insights to rescue the public from their cognitive imprisonment – not to manipulate the public into supporting the noble cause would be the true evil.
John, so it is Psyops applied to domestic civilian populations.
It looks like the US media ain’t bovvered neivver –
Major broadcast TV networks mentioned climate change just once during two weeks of heat-wave coverage
You may wish to call it psyops, but the behavioural scientists cited by AR5, Chapter 2, prefer far more innocuous terminology.
Firstly, there is ‘choice architecture’, as in:
“Descriptive models not only help explain behaviours that deviate from the predictions of normative models of choice but also provide entry points for the design of decision aids and interventions collectively referred to as choice architecture, indicating that people’s choices depend in part on the ways that possible outcomes of different options are framed and presented (Thaler and Sunstein, 2008).”
Then there is ‘social amplification of risk’, as in:
“Roser-Renouf et al. (2011), building upon the work of Krosnick et al. (2006), apply social cognitive theory to develop a model of climate advocacy to increase the attention given to climate change in the spirit of social amplification of risk. They found that campaigns looking to increase the number of citizens contacting elected officials to advocate climate policy action should focus on increasing the belief that global warming is real, human-caused, a serious risk, and solvable. These four key elements, coupled with the understanding that there is strong scientific agreement on global warming (Ding et al., 2011), are likely to build issue involvement and support for action to reduce the impacts of climate change.”
People who openly talk of framing, in the context of “the design of decision aids”, and increasing “the attention given to climate change in the spirit of social amplification of risk”, are hardly keeping their guile under wraps. It’s almost as if they are confident that sceptics never bother to read what the IPCC writes.
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So 73% of Americans now think that there is solid evidence of global warming, up from 72% in 2008.
According to Gallup, as reported at
a similar 1% movement of public opinion is noted in response to the question “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” with the number of respondents mentioning “Environment/Pollution” up from 1% in April to 2% in July. You could argue that this is a 100% increase, but the figure was 3% in March, so the overall message does seem to be “not bothered.”
Survey questions are like jokes; what matters is how you ask/tell them. Gallup’s questions were open-ended, which means that respondents were free to say what they liked, and they therefore reflect what people are thinking about, rather than what the pollsters are asking them to think about.
Out of 47 possible responses recorded, only two scored more than 10%, namely Immigration/Illegal aliens at 22% (up from 8% in January) and Dissatisfaction with government/Poor leadership at 19% (down from 25% in January.) So the recent images of the treatment of immigrants at The US’s southern border seem to have acted in Trump’s favour, which I don’t find surprising.
The 1% of Americans bothered by Environment/Pollution no doubt include a large proportion concerned by problems other than climate, often local, as for example the destruction of ancient forests to provide wood chips for Britain’s 15th century energy system. I think it’s safe to say that less than half a percent of informants are bothered about the climate, about the same number who are bothered about Russia, ISIS or Gay Rights.
Do – not – trust – surveys, I repeat, do – not – trust – surveys, for they contain
bi-ass, methodology – flaws and a marketing mission designed to produce
a designated outcome.
Breitbart has an article on that Gallup survey. They say that
Gallup Poll: No One Believes ‘Climate Change’ Is America’s Biggest Problem
I’m not sure if that’s strictly true. Presumably the people at Gallup put answers into categories, and would have filed ‘climate change’ under ‘evironment/pollution’.
The kind of open-ended question asked in the Gallup poll is fairly useless when the subject is as vast and complex as “problems facing the world.” Among the <1% worried about the “Situation with Russia” there are no doubt some who worry about Trump provoking a nuclear war, and others who fear that he's soft on Putin and won't go to war. Watching CNN, you'd think 99% of Americans think Trump's conversation with Putin was the most dangerous event of the century. For this reason alone, polls can be a handy corrective.
The advantage of the polls that Paul mentions in the article is that they ask the same question over time. This allows one to spot trends, even if the question is poorly formulated. Journalists tend to interpret the results as hard facts – numbers of people who believe – whereas what's being measured is surely something much more intangible – a Cloud of Unknowing rather than belief in a dogma.
It would be interesting to measure trends in the number of books published on climate change (and their sales figures.) My impression is that this would show a peak of interest around 2009 and Copenhagen, and a steep drop since. Expressions of concern nowadays (except from the well-funded professionals) feel like a distant echo of something half-forgotten, like the smell of incense given off by the ponytailed beardoes in secondhand vinyl disc shops.
Roger Pielke Jr, always worth listening to, has something to say about this issue, in 4 tweets (WordPress seems to like grouping them in pairs), referring to a different Gallup poll.
There is a nice related post by Cliff Mass from a few weeks ago,
Are Americans Losing Interest in Global Warming?
He concludes with
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People might be a tad more bovvered about climate if
(a) The alarmists could point to clear prophesies that had come true.
(b) They were prepared to have their arguments on the same basis as those of the critics. People can smell bias when name-calling those with different points of view.
(c) For the genuine experts to put clear water between themselves from the crazy political activists.