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Poll: Australians more skeptical. Climate change “dropped off” political radar

Posted By Joanne Nova On April 20, 2016 @ 2:02 am In Global Warming,Psychology | Comments Disabled

In Australia the latest (unpublished) opinion poll shows concern about tackling climate change has fallen from 55% in 2007 to 35%.

Groupthinking struggles to understand:

The aversion to talking about climate change during the election campaign reflects a wider problem: our concern for this issue has fallen even while it has become larger and more urgent, writes Mike Steketee.

Climate change dropped off the political radar – ABC Drum

It sure does reflect a wider problem: that democracies need real public debate, real choice, and we are not getting it. Skeptics want climate change to be a voter issue — bring on a plebiscite. Let the public decide how much they should spend to change the weather. But that’s exactly what the believer politicians fear. They know they have to hide the topic because it’s electoral death. Everyone wants to stop pollution and “save the planet” — it’s motherhood and apple pie, but no one wants to pay much to try to change the climate. Eighty percent might believe the climate changes, but only12% want to pay two dollars to offset their Jetstar flight (and it’s less for Qantas). Therein lies a diabolical dichotomy.

IPSOS poll shows Australians care less — there are more skeptics

Common sense is winning.

… a sobering reality: in the last eight years, many Australians’ concern over climate change has fallen even while the problem has become larger and more urgent.

There is no conflict here. “The problem” has become almost non-existent — the rains filled most dams, the seas barely rose, and the temperatures didn’t warm — except for El Nino noise.

The market research company Ipsos has been conducting surveys on the issue since 2007. In that year 54 per cent of people who were presented with a list of issues said climate change was one that needed to be addressed. In the latest report, still to be released, this fell to 38 per cent last year. This is about the same as for the previous two years, although higher than in 2011 and 2012.

Different descriptions on the list for essentially the same issue confirmed the finding, but more strongly. For example, concern about tackling “global warming” fell from 55 per cent to 35 per cent over the eight years. Renewable energy was at the top of the list of issues that needed to be addressed but it also has fallen significantly – from 68 per cent to 51 per cent.

Climate skeptics are gaining ground:

But it also has meant ceding ground to climate sceptics. They certainly did not worry about selling their message too hard: to the contrary, they thrived on their shrill advocacy to grab attention.

The groupthink churns. Look at the language. Steketee thinks skeptics are “selling” something when the vested interests, rewards and resources are almost entirely on his side. And who’s selling “too hard” — the people who say the climate has always changed or the people who say Armaggedon is coming, and climate change causes volcanoes? The hard sell program is the one that tells us we are evil, selfish and stupid people if we don’t drink the kool aid.

And what does “thriving” mean? Believers have jobs and junkets. Skeptics get sacked, and live off donations if they’re lucky. If skeptics were thriving, the government would be giving them grants, awards, and paying for two week extravaganzas in Paris.

More polarisation — thanks to the ABC

Spot the conflict that Steketee can’t explain, but which I can:

The yet-to-be-published data from Ipsos shows a jump from 27 per cent to 44 last year in the group of so called “active believers” – those with a strong sense of urgency and concern about climate change.

Ignore that the numbers don’t add up — 44% are”active believers” but only 35% are concerned about tackling global warming.  How is it that there are more skeptics overall and yet also more strident, passionate believers? If Steketee asked me (i.e. did some research) I could have told him. Long ago in 2010 a bigger more detailed opinion poll showed this issue was artificially U shaped, not a normal bell curve. If there was a real debate on a complex topic most people would be in the middle, not at the extremes. Gradually the middle would shift to one pole or the other as the issue resolved. Instead, the opposite has happened and opinions are polarizing rather than reconciling.

Only one side is right. The other side is bolstered, blinded and coached into fits of passion. One side leans to the correct, while the other to the politically correct. There is an artificial U curve because the issue is not calmly debated, it’s not discussed on its merits, and the topic has gone tribal.  The ABC (and BBC and CBC) is largely to blame because they won’t allow the skeptical side to present their views. If the skeptics were wrong, a real debate would crush them.

Instead, the poor denizens of “ABC-World” are fed a litany of unbalanced, badly researched articles just like Mike Steketee’s. They hear ad hominem fallacies, innuendo, and wild conspiracies of fantasy “fossil fuel” funding  that appeals to their base instincts. They are told they are smart for calling people names — “denier”. The hatred and sense of injustice inures them against rational arguments — even when skeptics are right they are wrong because they “must be paid liars”.

The ABC has burned years of trust and goodwill on this debate. Who wants public funded propaganda? Time to axe the funding, not because of its bias, but because of its incompetence.

Wherefore art the active 44%?

Looking at the IPSOS poll of 2015  the “27%” of active believers (that is apparently now 44%) comes from the researchers own categorizations which don’t even include an “active skeptic” position — a person can only be an active believer, an engaged moderate, or a passive doubter. There would be no “U” shape because of the poor design. In the US one recent poll showed 30% were happy to call climate change a “total hoax“. These would be categorised as “passive doubters” in Ipsos speak, which also finds that this group are least likely to have a university education — something that conflicts with other better surveys that show skeptics are better at science and mathematical reasoning. Still other large studies show there are proportionately more skeptics in the upper middle educated class than in the unskilled. The whole Ipsos survey is an online questionnaire. Whatever.

Believers have to hide the topic from voters

Abbott made climate change an issue and won resoundingly. Gillard gave mixed weak messages and barely won — then was caned when she broke promises and demanded hundreds of dollar per household in order to change the weather.  The only time in the last five years that Australians got to vote on “climate” they chose the skeptical choice. Believer politicians have to hide this debate because they lose every way.



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