Last week a new ComRes/ITV poll came out in the UK. The poll of 2,047 people from across the country shows that the population is split roughly into thirds. A third are skeptics, a third are believers, a third don’t know. Overall about 60% of UK citizens are not convinced that humans are changing the weather.
What was also really interesting but unreported about this study is that the wealthiest and most educated are more skeptical and those with the lowest income or shortest education were more likely to believe that humans are affecting the climate. In the upper middle class 36% think the floods are due to human activity, and virtually the same percentage — 35% are skeptics. In the manual worker and less skilled social bracket 44% think humans are to blame, and only 28% are skeptics. The skeptic message is winning over the upper class, better educated bracket. Presumably the rest will follow.
Firstly, most people think the weather is getting worse (red bar) — 65% of all the population. This belief is most common in the lowest income and less educated bracket.
A belief that the weather is getting worse does not necessarily mean that it is due to man-made emissions, and “weather” can mean storms and floods rather than hotter or colder temperatures. The next few questions provide more definition, though two of them still use the confounded and almost useless term “climate change”. We don’t know if people answer the question using the literal meaning or the coded one where all climate change equals man-made change.
But we can see that when people say the weather is getting worse, quite a lot of them are are referring to storms and floods, but about 15% are thinking of hotter or colder weather or don’t think this is a a true change in the climate, or a man-made effect but perhaps is only a natural patch of bad weather.
One question asks if the recent storms and floods show climate change is really happening, and the 65% who thought the weather is getting worse falls to 50% who think the climate is changing. Note the stark divergence across social groups continues. I’ve colored the more skeptical answers in blue and those more likely to be concerned about concerned about the climate with the red bars.
Obviously, the IPCC message rings with uneducated and low income groups. The more educated and the higher the income, the less convinced people are. Alarmists would probably say that rich people are more likely to be deniers and the poor are more concerned, the predictable spin. But I say this has more to do with education and information sources.
Looks to me like skepticism is driven by those who can read and are online. Those who rely solely on TV news will be the last to find out. (Can anyone find a older version of a study like this so we can see how the proportions of social groups are shifting? Since skepticism is growing, but a predisposition to selfish “denial” in the population probably stays the same, it would be a safe assumption that the more educated are driving the rise in skepticism.)
The propaganda message that CO2 is “pollution” is failing first in the well read classes. The intellectual debate is being played out in the influential upper middle classes.
Turn the last question inside out and a curious thing happens. The number who believe climate change is real and causing floods and storms drops from 50% to 44%. So for at least 6% of the population any statement of belief in climate change vanishes if the opposite question is asked. The change appears to occur in the lesser skilled, lower income groups. These are what I call “passive skeptics” — they tick boxes on surveys saying “yes” to propaganda, but if given the merest excuse to dump the official approved line, it’s dropped. Climate activists don’t know these people exist, because they never discuss the skeptical view with any approval so they don’t realize how fickle some of their “fans” are. They never see the other side.
Again, unskilled workers, the unemployed and pensioners are more likely to say that storms and floods are due to “climate change”. Again, the divergence is obvious, the highest proportion of skeptics are in the upper middle class. Those who believe, are in the low income, less educated groups. Interestingly the most uncertain group are the lower middle class — perhaps caught between knowing the official dogma, but hearing increasingly skeptical messages from friends or colleagues in the influential wealthier more educated group?
Finally, thankfully, there is one question that uses the phrase, “human activity”. And now the 44% drops to 38% who agree with the officially approved conclusion. Fully sixty two percent of the population are skeptical. The stand-out feature of the responses graphed below is that there are fewer skeptics and more belief in the official line among the poorest and least educated.
Al Gore and Tim Flannery et al can’t be happy about this. Many climate activists push the meme that if they only communicated their message better more people would agree. The fact that skepticism is on the rise, and that the most educated are the most skeptical, betrays the fallacy that better propaganda will achieve anything. Instead it shows that belief in carbon dioxide driven calamity largely rests in the unskilled or low income class. Presumably the message is filtering through.
Notice also that when activists want to convince us that they have the majority on their site, they are more likely to use vague confounded survey questions like Figure 1 or 2 above, and not the more accurate questions as in Figure 4 (which don’t usually get asked).
A note on the social groupings used in the UK
The study referred to social grade in the UK as AB, C1,C2 and DE (see below). I translated those into headings on the graphs above. The results unfortunately blend 6 or 7 social groups into 4, so is low resolution in terms of picking apart the strata. AB is quite a broad grouping with everyone from the uber-rich to middle management. Likewise, DE is unfortunately broad — D is “working class” or semi and unskilled manual workers, and E is state pensioners or the unemployed. So includes both those with little education and those who may have university degrees but are retired.
National Readership Survey (NRS) demographic categories
|Social Grade||Social Status||Occupation|
|A||upper middle class||higher managerial, administrative or professional|
|B||middle class||intermediate managerial, administrative or professional|
|C1||lower middle class||supervisory or clerical, junior managerial, administrative or professional|
|C2||skilled working class||skilled manual workers|
|D||working class||semi and unskilled manual workers|
|E||those at lowest level of subsistence||state pensioners or widows (no other earner), casual or lowest grade workers|
ITV News Index Survey: ONLINE Fieldwork: 3rd-5th January 2014 The full results are available here.
UPDATE: Australian results on a similarish study were reported two weeks later.