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Australian climate poll: 60% passionate (but half in the dark)

The poll of Australians commission by the Australian Climate Science Coalition is more sophisticated than the BBC poll, and shows a similar trend against the theory of man-made global catastrophe. But, perhaps not surprisingly, as with the nature of fraud and misinformation, the results also contain contradictions. It’s quicksand out there in voter-world. Half the population is no longer sold on the emissions trading scheme, but the other half is unaware of what is unfolding. A bare majority of Australians still want to do “something” to combat climate change (I wonder if the same number of people want to do “something” to combat the weather), but even those who want action don’t want to spend very much.

The full report PDF.

IMAGE: Graph of ACSC Poll of Australians Jan 2010 on Climate Action

Table 20: ACSC Poll of Australians Jan 2010

The things we know for sure:

  1. Skepticism is growing in Australia since Climategate (and all the other gates) and the failure of Copenhagen.
  2. There is a great deal of ignorance out there on both sides of the fence. (The science communication on this topic has been poor, worse, and awful.)
  3. The population is politically split: The half that doesn’t believe in the scare campaign is also the half more likely to vote conservative or independent.
  4. People are polarized. It’s not a bell shaped curve, where most people are in the middle, and the fringes thin out. It’s a U-shape, where the middle is deserted. From the graph above, 28% strongly support action, while 33% strongly oppose it. On this matter, around 60% of Australians are passionate, and half of them are wrong.

A divided nation

Since October, there has been an 8% shift away from the belief that the risk of a carbon-related catastrophe is real. This translates into about 1.7 million Australians who have changed their minds. Now, only 49% think the risk is real, 33% don’t, and the rest are not sure.

Note the slight contradiction: 49% think it’s real, but 51% think we should act on it irrespective of what other nations do! (So 2% of voters aren’t sure there is a problem, but think we should act anyway?) Whichever way you look at it, we Australians are an altruistic lot, eh? But, this altruism mostly appears to be wishful thinking. Those who believe we should act have no real idea what the cost of “going non-fossil” would be, and many don’t want to pay much. Roughly one-in-ten Australians is willing to spend only $10 (or less) extra per month for electricity; another one-in-ten is willing to spend  up to $20; only three-in-ten are willing to spend more.

The trading scheme is picking up a decidedly nasty smell

The idea of the trading scheme is now deeply unpopular, with 39% strongly opposing it, and only 8% strongly supporting it. Those who strongly oppose have grown from 30% last October; that is to say, nearly 10% of the population has shifted in three months, losing faith in, or becoming actively against, the idea.  Rudd’s Emissions Trading Scheme is also known as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). It now looks like a burden. The ruling Labor Party might even prefer that the conservatives vote it down, because Labor could then build something new up. If the scheme got voted in, it would be one heck of a dead-weight to carry to the next elections.

As I said in November, when word of the fraud and corruption spreads, people will not just vote against the ETS, they will be energized and passionate to act against it, to smite it, and to tell their friends. And it would appear that conservatives have told their conservative friends, but that the left-leaning voters are unaware of the collapse of the scam unfolding around us.

Now it’s time to tell your other friends

The two most widely read publications in Australia (especially among the left-leaning) are the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, which have done a sterling job of green-washing recent developments. Likewise, educated left-leaning Australians watch the ABC, which panders to the scare campaign 110%, as Andrew Bolt described so well last week. Hence, many good people are simply unaware that Climategate is anything more than a story of poor climate scientists being attacked by hackers, and that Lord Monckton talks about problems with climate sensitivity that none of the alarmists can answer properly (but, they may be aware that his eyes protrude).  Such is the poor standard of investigative reporting in our largest daily papers and public broadcaster. Embarrassing.

So, it’s time for those who are aware to let their left-leaning friends know what is going on, in the politest, most considerate way. I know it’s hard, and some liberals may be tempted to shoot the messengers, but for people inculcated with the double-whammy of the SMH/AGE newspapers (e.g., how not to do journalism), combined with ABC propaganda, nudges from friends may be the only things that will tip them off that a major socio-political scandal of historic proportions is about to pop out of the box.

Misinformation everywhere

What’s also interesting — though sobering– is that many conservatives think that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas, which is flatly wrong. Possibly these people who’ve rejected the spin stories and picked up that they are being sold a con have just rejected everything they’ve been told on the topic.  It’s a kind of backlash. The science communicator in me winces. The accurate, simplest summary of what’s going on is that:

  1. Yes, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas
  2. Yes, doubling CO2 warms the planet — by around 1 degree.
  3. There is no evidence that anything more than 1 degree will happen (indeed the empirical evidence suggests that clouds and humidity change to dampen the effect to just a half a degree). The 2-10 degree projections are baseless scares. You can find out more here: The one fatal flaw is in the feedbacks.

If the science communicators had being doing their job of describing accurately how much we know, and what we don’t know, there wouldn’t be as much of a knee-jerk reaction against the “green press”.

About the poll

There were 1,737 responses to the on-line opinion poll.  It’s a more “lefty” group than the average population, so the results were adjusted (taking their voting intentions into account) to match recent phone polls that have a more representative pool of voters. The poll was done Jan 27-29, before our conservative party put out its policies.

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