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Broad consensus on climate change across American states

A recent US “survey of surveys” by Stanford University Professor Jon Krosnick has analysed public opinion on climate change in 46 of USA’s 50 states. Krosnick found to his surprise that, regardless of…

The majority of people accept climate science; why not our leaders? Glenys Jones

A recent US “survey of surveys” by Stanford University Professor Jon Krosnick has analysed public opinion on climate change in 46 of USA’s 50 states. Krosnick found to his surprise that, regardless of geography, most Americans accept that global warming is happening and that humans are causing it.

In all 46 states, they found that at least 75% of participants thought global warming was happening. Even in traditionally conservative red states such as Texas, 84% thought global warming was happening and 72% agreed humans were the cause. Acceptance of global warming increased to at least 84% for states hit by drought or vulnerable to sea level rise.

In all states, at least 65% of Americans thought humans were causing global warming. Utah showed the lowest level at 65% while acceptance was highest in New Hampshire with 90%. Most Americans also supported government curbs of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

This is comparable to a CSIRO analysis that found 75% of Australians believe climate change is happening. While these results indicate high public acceptance of climate science, there is still a significant gap between public opinion and the views of climate scientists. A 2009 survey of the scientific community found that among actively publishing climate scientists, 97.4% agreed that human activity was changing global temperature.

This result has since been replicated by an analysis of public statements by climate scientists, finding 97% consensus among 908 scientists who had published peer-reviewed climate research. Earlier this year, I was part of a team that analysed 21 years of climate research. Among 4,014 papers that stated a position on human-caused global warming, we found 97.1% agreement that humans were causing global warming.

Of course, let me head off the flood of inevitable comments by pointing out that our understanding of climate change is based on empirical evidence. There are many lines of independent observations indicating that humans are causing global warming. The consilience of evidence has resulted in an overwhelming and strengthening consensus in the climate science community.

Three quarters of Americans may not be as high as the 97% scientific consensus. However, politically speaking, it is still a strong majority. So why is there so little support for climate action among politicians?

While the general public on average accepts climate science, Republicans are more likely to reject the scientific consensus. This is particularly the case with conservative Republicans, who are more likely to vote in primaries. During the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries, even candidates who accepted the science were forced to reject the scientific consensus in order to gain the support of their party.

Many studies have found a significant link between political ideology and climate beliefs. In 2006, Heath and Gifford found that support for unfettered free markets was a significant predictor of climate change concern. In other words, those who oppose government regulation of the fossil fuel industry are more likely to reject climate change science. The more politically conservative one is, the more likely they are to reject climate science.

However, there is a schism even within the Republican Party. A recent Pew survey found that among Tea Party members, only 25% accept global warming. In contrast, 61% of other Republicans accept that global warming is happening. A minority group out of kilter with the rest of the populace and the scientific community are exerting a disproportionate influence on the public discourse about climate change.

This is also occurring in Australia. A survey of Australian views on climate change found that only 7% of Australians think climate change isn’t happening. When the 7% of Australians who deny climate change are asked to estimate how many Australians share their views, they estimate 49%. This is known as the false consensus effect, a tendency to overestimate how popular one’s opinion is.

However, a more insidious and destructive effect is pluralistic ignorance. This is where people privately reject an opinion but incorrectly think others accept it. For example, when Australians are asked to estimate the percentage of Australians that deny climate change, the average answer is at least 20% - around three times the actual amount.

Similarly, there is a significant gap between public perception of scientific consensus and the 97% reality. A 2012 survey found that 57% of Americans either disagreed with or were unaware of the fact that most scientists agree global warming is happening. This matters because perceived consensus is a strong predictor of support for climate policy. When people think the scientists agree, they are more likely to support climate action.

Unfortunately, mainstream media outlets are perpetuating the misconceptions. One way they achieve this is by granting outlier voices disproportionate visibility in the public arena, creating misleading and counterproductive debates.

For example, ABC’s Q&A regularly features public figures who reject climate science (but are rarely climate scientists). While the back-and-forth generates much heat that arguably makes for entertaining television, such displays reinforce the myth of disagreement among the climate science community.

The public need to recognise that contrarian voices that deny the scientific consensus are a minority among the general public. More importantly, the public need to correctly perceive that scientists who reject the consensus are a vanishingly small minority in the climate science community, which shows an overwhelming and strengthening consensus.

Join the conversation

105 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      I like that cartoon Mark.

      Whilst they may be dull names, at least "dark matter" and "denier" have the advantage of being accurate descriptors.

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    2. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    3. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Stop upsetting the author by using the term Denier, after all, he coined the now famous descriptor ' Implicit Denier' to describe climate change hypocrites.

      What is a climate change hypocrite?

      Some one who lectures me to reduce my use of fossil fuels then chooses to burn fossil jet fuel for nothing but their own pleasure.

      Can't any of you see the obvious moral dilemma you face when next you click Buy Tickets on the Jetstar website to fly to Peru for a holiday.

      I guess you cannot, which is an interesting comment on your morality.

      Gerard Dean

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    4. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Let's get something straight Mr Dean: do you accept that AGW is a reality? If not, do not bother with these ad hominem attacks, for that is what they are. They are also irrelevant to the reality of climate change.

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    5. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      According to Mr Dean's morality - it is much better to be a coward than a hypocrite.

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    6. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Who is "you", and what is the intelligence of your morality Gerard. This is a conversation about the large percentage of Americans who think climate change is happening, caused by us, and the similar but not as large percentage of Australians who think so also. It is also about the 7% who don't.
      Your response is rude, when considering your inability to accept the topic, and veer of into your own peculiar subject.

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    7. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Henry, what is relevant to the reality of climate change, and Australia's response to it, is the fact that action by Australia will have an undetectable effect on it.

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    8. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, Gerard's comment may appear rude, but its substance is quite valid. Jet travel produces more co2 globally than the entirety of Australia's emissions.

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    9. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to John Phillip

      The substance of Gerards argument has nothing to do with the conversation John, and appears to be not just a personal attack of John Cook, executed in a very subtle, but not conclusive manner. The other point about jet fuel and holidays has absolutely no relevance to the conversation. Gerard is showing disrespect by prosecuting this point. This is not a conversation about what produces CO2, it is one about peoples thoughts about whether we cause it or not. Why should we have a conversation about Gerards subject matter. Gerard is incapable of conversing about anything other than his one topic and yes this is rude.

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    10. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      It is so good to see Men of Faith, kind of like Knights in Armour protecting all those who would be duped by the addicts.

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  1. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    In 1935, Upton Sinclair wrote:

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

    This pretty well describes the reason for the rejection of climate science within the Republican party - where donations from the fossil fuel industry are able to buy the views and opinions of many politicians.

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    1. John Cook

      Climate Communication Research Fellow at University of Queensland

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Actually, Mike, I think for most people who reject climate science, it goes a lot deeper than money - this is more about political ideology than pay-packets. Sure, there do exist scientists who accept large sums of money from fossil fuel companies. But there is plenty of published research finding that political ideology is a significant driving force behind the rejection of the evidence supporting human-caused global warming.

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Cook

      Thanks for your reponse John.

      I have read a lot of those studies etc which have investigated the link between denialism and political ideology, but I think many of them fall into the trap of correlation vs causation (although I am willing to be shown to be wrong).

      Many people in the wider community simply believe what their leaders are telling them - not being experts or even capable of rationally assessing the accuracy of scientific studies (if they read them at all).

      That means that the…

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Cook

      Ideology may well be the one thing that can speak louder than money...

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    4. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to John Cook

      It is political ideology. Quote Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Working Group III:
      ❝ But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.
      One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy.
      This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore ....❞ http://www.thegwpf.org/ipcc-official-climate-policy-is-redistributing-the-worlds-wealth/ . The original german link is there for those about to attack the website translation. The 2°C target is a political target: "Two degrees is not a magical limit -- it's clearly a political goal," says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/climate-catastrophe-a-superstorm-for-global-warming-research-a-686697-8.html

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    5. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to John Cook

      Thanks for this article, sure to be attacked by those whose ideology is unfettered economic growth. Climate science challenges that ideology so they reject the science and will probably continue to do so until and unless the detrimental impacts are absolutely dreadful and obvious. By then the damage may well be enormous, relatively expensive, and affect quite a few future generations.

      Unfortunately those who make and/or influence public policy in this country are among those whose ideological bent is biased toward growth and development with little regard for the future.

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    6. Brian Westlake

      Common Sage

      In reply to John Cook

      "....there do exist scientists who accept large sums of money from fossil fuel companies" and not just from the Denier camp but from the Alarmist camp as well. Dana Nuccitelli anyone !

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    7. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      "....The 2°C target is a political target...."

      No-one would argue with that Mark. If it were scientific target, it would be much lower. Unfortunately, science had to compromise because the politicians weren't willing to do the hard yards necessary to restrict climate change to a lower number.

      Now it looks as though 2C has become too hard politically as well. And every scientist in the world is looking on in despair.

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    8. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to Brian Westlake

      Please provide evidence for the claim that there are scientist from the "Alarmist camp" who "accept large sums of money"...

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    9. Brian Westlake

      Common Sage

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      No Miek

      What I am saying is that just because you are in the employ of big oil does not mean that your scientific work should be written off as a conflict of interest. Also, don't forget that Phrenology once enjoyed Scientific Consensus !

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    10. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Brian Westlake

      You are correct Brian. It doesn't matter who you are employed by, your scientific work should stand and fall on its merits. And I don't care about consensus - I only care about evidence.

      On that basis, it is pretty clear what is happening.

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    11. Ian Alexander

      Reader

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Mark

      Who is behind this massive global warming conspiracy?
      What are their objectives?
      Does the conspiracy (in your mind) involve the NWO?

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    12. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      "One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy..." Ottmar Edenhofer. Interesting quote.
      Transnational corporations putting social responsibility after profit generation is central there is little doubt. Entities leading economies into consumption with the cycle of built in redundancy seen as normal by many generations in our modern era. Pushing the stupidity of exponential growth, spreadsheet metrics and an unbalanced worldview taking economies…

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    13. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Brian Westlake

      Will you all stop using the term Denier, because it will upset the author, Mr John Cook.

      After all, it was he who coined the descriptive phrase,"Then there's implicitary denial where people's behaviour does not align with their beliefs." to describe those who believe in climate change and the need to cut fossil fuel usage, but then continue to choose to burn it for their own pleasure.

      Which begs the question, is an Implicit Denier worse than a plain Denier?

      Answer that one people when next you take a flight to France for a holiday.

      Gerard Dean

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    14. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      There you go again using the term 'Denialism'

      The author, Mr John Cook must be really steamed up by now. You should remember that Mr Cook accurately described those people who believe in climate change and the need to cut fossil fuel usage, but then chose to burn fossil jet fuel for their own pleasure as 'Implicit Deniers'

      So Mr Swinbourne, to rephrase your question - is there a link between Implicit Denialism and political ideology?

      Good luck

      Gerard Dean

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    15. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      "Which begs the question, is an Implicit Denier worse than a plain Denier?"

      No - much better. Because an implicit denier supports political actions to encourage the broader community to reduce overall emissions.

      A plain Denier quite often deliberately obstructs political efforts to reduce emissions.

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    16. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Paul Richards

      You seem to imply that exploiting the planet is some grievous sin. Doesn't everything living exploit the planet as much as it possibly can? Perhaps you have some concept of "over-exploiting" in mind.

      In which case maybe should go and live in a cave and eat roots and berries for a few years. Report back at intervals and let us know how it's working out.

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    17. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Thanks for the comment. Mark Pollock wrote; "You seem to imply that exploiting the planet is some grievous sin" If you project that onto what I wrote that is ok. I can assure you it is no 'sin' if anyone acts in ignorance of the ramifications. But understand the need for the reference to the Abrahamic line of logic.
      Mark Pollock wrote;"Doesn't everything living exploit the planet as much as it possibly can? No.
      Where is the model for that in natural systems anywhere on the planet?
      With virus that grow exponentially choking the food source and dying. But if you think that humans should model virus, the values are understood and well represented by the political centre.

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    18. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Mark,
      You said "Doesn't everything living exploit the planet as much as it possibly can?"
      And hasn't every society that exploited the environment without concern for the long term consequences collapsed.
      We have the intelligence to learn from that history but clearly a few trogolodytes feel we will always come up with away to overcome the collapse. I bet that's what the Mayans thought.
      As John has pointed out most of the population accept the science, what we need to do is devise a workable strategy to avoid the consequences. Denying the science is no way to start.

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    19. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Paul Richards

      I'm not at all sure about the Abrahmic line of logic. Is this some new justification about how we'll all be ruined if we don't feel terribly sad
      about other people using too much air-conditioning?

      Apart from the issue of whether a virus is actually living, you might give me an example of something else that doesn't maximally exploit. APart from humans of course. This may be what you are striving to say but the implication is that humans are separate from the natural order. That's debatable but would require a religious dimension to the argument.

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    20. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      What about our ex climate commissars who got 180k per year on top of their regular taxpayers stipends? Weren't some of them scientists? They were certainly alarmist enough. And didn't that chap Hansen earn half a million or so p.a. from his speaking engagements, on to of his GISS salary?

      It's a gravy train.

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    21. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to David Rennie

      In this article, "John" pointed out that "Jon" had pointed out that some other people had done some surveys. We are three removes from what people actually said. Those three removes bring us close to drivel. If you want to do research do it properly - start with staying away from the internet and digitised telephone calls.

      The Romans, Greeks Egyptians Chinese Sumerians, you name it exploited their environments to the best of their abilities and they all collapsed from non environmental causes. What a load of tosh. I suppose you're going to blame the barbarian invasions on excessive air conditioning.

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    22. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      In the last two USA Presidential campaigns American statistician Nate Silver doing "a survey of surveys" famously wiped the floor with Mark's co-thinkers, the right-wing pundits for Fox News.

      The least reliable poll turned out not be auto-diallers or internet based polls but those taken by Mitt Romney's organisation which was in deep denial about the consistent message from Silver's "538" blog in the NYT.

      Science 1, Ideology 0

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    23. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Actually Mark there have been at least four surveys using various methodologies showing that the 97% figure among climate scientists has been robust for the last decade. This is not Chinese whispers, its a factual reporting of the evidence something deniers always have trouble accepting. The four surveys are listed here. None of them involved digitised telephone calls.
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/debunking-climate-consensus-denial.html
      The Doran and Zimmerman 2009 survey was exemplary…

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    24. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      "....There you go again using the term 'Denialism'..."

      I would prefer the phrase 'still using the term'.

      "....but then chose to burn fossil jet fuel...."

      I see you have learned a new phrase Gerard. Did your owner get sick of hearing 'JetA1' every time he changed the newspaper at the bottom of your cage?

      "....So Mr Swinbourne, to rephrase your question..."

      Which question was that?

      '..... is there a link between Implicit Denialism and political ideology?..."

      No. Anything else?

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    25. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, A lifetimes span prior to 1935 the US had one of their Ark extreme weather events.
      I imagine many people in such conditions would be more than happy to have a salary.

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    26. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to John Cook

      " But there is plenty of published research finding that political ideology is a significant driving force behind the rejection of the evidence supporting human-caused global warming. "
      Any chance John that the researchers were hoping for a particular result!
      Seeing as you have a role in the Climate area, just last night on the SBS article re looming catastrophes there was a reference to Ark Storms - http://www.examiner.com/article/california-is-under-an-atmospheric-river-or-ark-storm-with-the-worst-to-come , it seeming to be an extreme weather event that predates much of human influence - what say you in that regard?

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    27. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ian Alexander

      " Who is behind this massive global warming conspiracy?
      What are their objectives?
      Does the conspiracy (in your mind) involve the NWO? "
      Is it religiously inspired Ian, seeking more to follow the faith as the NWO.

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  2. Mike Hansen

    Mr.

    "For example, when Australians are asked to estimate the percentage of Australians that deny climate change, the average answer is at least 20% - around three times the actual amount."

    The people who answered that question probably read the comments on climate change articles at The Conversation! :-)

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      I raised the issue of the climate science denier trolling here in jest but John may be able to comment on the effect that the trolling has.

      It is just about impossible these days to go to any science based site on the internet that is not heavily trolled by deniers. What they lack in scientific knowledge they make up for in zeal. Even the venerable Scientific American website is regularly attacked. I would have thought that the readership of a site like that is relatively immune from denier nonsense…

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    2. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      I note the term 'Climate Science Denier' which is interesting because the author of this article, Mr John Cook as stated that, '"Then there's implicitary denial where people's behaviour does not align with their beliefs."

      His statement is directed at those who believe in climate change and the need to cut fossil fuel usage, but then choose to burn fossil fuel for their own pleasure.

      Is an Implicit Denier the same as a plain Denier?
      Does a plain Denier have higher moral ground than an Implicit Denier? This is an excellent moral question because a Denier might well be stupid, but an Implicit Denier knows the dangers of burning more fossil fuels, yet continues to do so.
      Is an Implicit Denier guilty of a crime if they knowingly burn fossil fuel for their own pleasure?

      Gerard Dean

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    3. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Ahhhh, Mr Hansen

      We meet again, and again, and again.

      I wish you well Sir.

      Gerard Dean

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    4. In reply to Gerard Dean

      Comment removed by moderator.

  3. Henry Verberne

    Former IT Professional

    Do not feed the trolls! They are worth engaging with.

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  4. Paul Richards

    integral operating system

    Appreciate the article.
    John Cook wrote; " ... known as the false consensus effect, a tendency to overestimate how popular one’s opinion is." Great sentence.
    Having watched those denying change squirming over the science for four decades, the term "Legends in Their Own Lunchbox"* works for me. Comments triggered by an eight year olds* values in highly intelligent individuals is no longer the surprise it once was.
    "false consensus effect"; is such a simple summary of the cognitive biases on record here since "The Conversation" started. Interestingly, a positive fact about cloud data never dying is the permanent record for generations to come. The record on this portal will be invaluable for those researching the twisted line of logic used by our eras older generations and their mentored followers.
    _________________________________
    * http://goo.gl/lQ20zK
    For those who are unaware, this byline is becoming increasingly prevalent in the US ** http://goo.gl/0EJDo0

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    1. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul

      The only people squirming reading this article are those teachers sitting at Tullamarine ready to burn some fossil jet fuel to fly to Europe for their holidays.

      John Cook nailed their hypocrisy when referred to them as 'Implicit Deniers'

      Don't get upset at me for spilling the beans on climate change believers hypocritical behaviour, have a go at the author.

      Gerard Dean

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    2. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerard Dean ;"... only people squirming reading this article" interesting comment. Once again highlighting the national and international travel promoted by transnational corporations in their quest for exponential profit and projecting hypocrisy. It's now very old, worn out and no more valid than any other supporting all the other twisted political lines of logic.
      Gerard Dean wrote; " ... Don't get upset at me" If you read any angst it is misguided. The value system carried was transparent from your fifth comment on "The Conversation".
      Your stance works for me, there are few as easy recognise, that is a credit to your honesty and well respected. Can only recommend trying another line 'bunker oil' use could work there are many issues greenwashing hypocrisy that could be tagged to that one.

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  5. Mark Pollock

    Analyst

    For what it’s worth, another question in the survey of surveys was “Warming is extremely important personally (and is likely to influence voting)”.

    Here are the results for some the states, more or less at random. Nevada 12%, Florida 14%, Louisiana 9%, Alabama 7%, Montana 5%, New Jersey 12%, West Virginia 6%, New York 11%, Rhode Island, Delaware 8%, Michigan 8%. I could have looked at more but a pattern is emerging. (It looks like the green vote.)

    Something is going on in the survey, I suspect…

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    1. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      What sort of questions would satisfy you Mark? You seem to be drawing a rather long bow in casting some sort of aspersions on the surveys.

      Sounds more you do not like the answers so you are crying foul over the questions!!

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    2. Ian Alexander

      Reader

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Who is behind the global warming conspiracy?
      What are their objectives?
      Do their objectives (in your mind) involve a NWO?

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    3. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Mark makes a good point about the gap between accepting the science and accepting the need for action. I suspect that is the same point that Gerard is trying to make although the fact that he has just spammed the discussion with it probably leaves people with the impression that he is slightly unhinged and makes it less likely that they will actually engage with the point he is making.

      This survey makes the same point.
      https://theconversation.com/green-hypocrites-behaviour-change-in-a-consumerist-society-13002

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    4. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      i think Gerard has been sniffing the JetA1 fuel and is probably high on it! :D

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    5. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      No, I was talking about the questions, then the answers. These were questions from the surveys that were not so curiously ignored by the reporters as they didn't fit in with the "consensus".

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    6. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      I don't do ballistic. I do cool rational interpretation of the facts. I may get little peeved when when true believers swarm like blowflies or vultures around the corpses of the current natural disaster, claiming it's the latest proof of our climate wickedness.

      I quickly regain my composure though. Most of these people are stuck in an adolescent stage of development and hopefully will mature out of their fantasies.

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    7. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Ian Alexander

      There doesn't have to any particular person or persons behind it. Nobody was behind the tulip mania that gripped the Dutch some years ago. It was just as nutty as AGW, there was the same overwhelming consensus that it was the right theory and it was equally damaging to the polity.

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    8. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      So now I'm a racist as well as a polar bear hater?

      But I forgive you your insults. As I mentioned, I suspect you are stuck in the juvenile phase of development and will grow out of it as you gain more experience of the world.

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    9. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      But there was a consensus!

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    10. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      "Mark makes a good point about the gap between accepting the science and accepting the need for action."

      You just have to watch the actions of the "average" person to see there is a huge disconnect between the two. Even the easy things most people refuse to undertake eg no flying, no meat eating pets, minimal driving, change voting habits (to force political change), minimal consumption. Let alone broaching some of the more difficult choices that will eventually be foisted upon them regardless in the decades to come.

      I suspect going forward, that citizens will resist any change because any chance of genuine mitigation necessarily requires a vast economic shift. Most are not prepared to undertake that journey, even if they instinctively know the damage they are doing from their emissions.

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    11. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Mark,
      If you did cool rational interpretation of the facts you would either be able provide some refutation to the surveys that show 97% of Climate Scientists acknowledge the reality of climate change or you would accept the surveys.
      The fact that you do neither blows your claim to rationality out the window.
      Stupidity isn't 'cool' either.
      So really what you do is 'absurd irrational misinterpretation' of the facts isn't it?

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    12. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Yes Mike, the reason for the attack on the carbon tax being based on cost of living issues and not the science is because they aren't 'denying the science'. What the policy shift does acknowledge is the undetectable effect action by Australia will have on the problem globally.
      To give some context to this have a look at this article in the guardian:
      http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jan/31/world-carbon-dioxide-emissions-country-data-co2.
      As I've pointed out to another respondent on another article, China is INCREASING emissions by more than double the entire Australian output. As time goes on and China's emissions continue to grow the sum total of Australia's emissions becomes increasingly irrelevant in the sense of influencing 'dangerous climate change'..

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    13. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to John Phillip

      Yes. It is. That is pretty obvious actually. More than one study has reached that conclusion. It's also not that hard to believe. Scientists don't have a problem with the science, only laypeople.

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    14. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Mark, see my other comments on my 'pet topic'. What effect will action by Australia have on 'dangerous climate change'? I am not saying do nothing. I am asking people to be honest and realistic about the results of suggested actions.

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    15. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to John Phillip

      How about taking the money and using it assist in development of greener power, renewables, nuclear, etc.

      I agree that it is unlikely to affect the global climate

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  6. Chris Owens

    Professional

    A contributing factor may be the fact that conservative ideologies attract those with a low IQ with the scientists noting “research has revealed that individuals who more strongly endorse social conservatism have greater cognitive rigidity, less cognitive flexibility and lower integrative complexity. Socially conservative individuals also perform less well than liberals on standardized ability tests.” http://rt.com/usa/conservative-ideologies-science-group-477/

    This group then makes good fodder for racist/denier cheerleaders like Bolt & Jones and their political/business backers.

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    1. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Chris Owens

      Sir

      Will you please reconsider your use of the term Denier. The author himself penned the immortal description of those who say they believe in climate change and the need to cut fossil fuel usage, then burn fossil jet fuel for their own pleasure.

      Mr Cook said of these hypocrites, "Then there's implicitary denial where people's behaviour does not align with their beliefs.".

      Perhaps you can explain how it is morally acceptable to lecture others like me to reduce my fossil fuel usage, then choose to burn it yourself for nothing but your own pleasure.

      Nobody on the Conversation has provided an ethical or morally acceptable basis for this duplicitous behaviour.

      Perhaps you can.

      Gerard Dean

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    2. Chris Owens

      Professional

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Mr Dean. The issue is: do the citizens of the world accept that we are changing the climate due to our consumption of fossil fuels and is this going to have negative effects on the health of the planet? If the answer is yes, then the question becomes what do we do about it and how.

      Your attempts to divert the argument and justify the status quo, does not address either and therefore is irrelevant to the debate.

      In the not too distant future I suspect the age of large scale, fossil fuel dependent air travel will be over.

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    3. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Chris Owens

      Oh dats it den! I must be some typ of retard coz I doznt tak all u say as the gospl trewth!! An I niver new til now!

      Thnx fur lettin me in the know. Sa reel privildge been set rite bi Sich a smart feller.

      So ows I go about been cliver likes you? I's wanna be a professional to. Shuld I do a course in lim ate science or sump ting?

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    4. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Chris Owens

      No you are totally wrong. The issue is to what degree are we changing our climate through the use of fossil fuels. If it's a minis clue degree, as seems likely, then there is nothing to worry about. Like all zealots you see the question in binary terms.

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  7. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    Hey John

    I wonder how many of those Americans fit your description of climate change hypocrites,'"Then there's implicitary denial where people's behaviour does not align with their beliefs."

    Of all states, California would have to have more Cook's Implicit Deniers than any other place on earth.

    Californians love to parade their eco credentials in their Prius, but don't get in their way of their other car, a huge SUV on the interstate or stop them burning fossil jet fuel to fly to Switzerland for a spot of skiing.

    California - land of milk, honey and John Cook's Implicit Deniers.

    Gerard Dean

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  8. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Adam Gilbert

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      [Once again, John Cook drags out the fake 97% figure. This figure is not supported by any credible research.]

      Consensus denialists are an interesting sub-group of the climate change denialist community when contrasted with their "Yeah they all agree but it's group-think and they say it to get research grants" allies. I often wonder if they become embroiled in arguments with each other over this point, but I guess that since climate change denialism offers so many conflicting talking points consistency isn't really of any major concern.

      I'm curious to know - if there's no consensus among climate scientists over AGW, and the science in favour of it is so obviously flawed, why does the Abbott government, and even Abbott himself, pretend to accept the science? We're told over and over that "the great global warming swindle" has been exposed, yet Tony Abbott will go on TV and insist the science is "off the table", and that he accepts it. Why?

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    2. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Adam Gilbert

      Did you read the article? Thousands of nut cases have, if not drunk the Kool-aid, taken a little sip. Abbott has to slip them a wink too.

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    3. Adam Gilbert

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      I see. So you're happy for a politician to lie about their stance on an issue and for them to pretend to be taking meaningful action if it helps them in the polls?

      Also, with a portion of your climate change denial community insisting that "the climate change house of cards has fallen", how do you think they will respond to the fact that even Utah can manage to get 65% of its population on board with the "nut case" scientific community? Will they take the same approach that they adopt with the scientific consensus - denial?

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    4. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff,
      You claim that the 97% figure is mnot supported by credible research.
      There are at least 4 credible research papers providing evidence that 97% of Climate Scientists accept the reality of global warming.
      They are listed here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/debunking-climate-consensus-denial.html
      The Doran & Zimmerman 2009 paper was run by statisticians asking unbiased questions, of scientists in the Earth Sciences. Over 30 % of those invited to respond did so. It is extremely credible research. There is no paper rebutting the 97% figure available anywhere, if you are aware of one please provide a reference rather than making unsupported allegations.

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    5. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Adam Gilbert

      Where did I say I was happy? You're making things up. The NLP plan will be as ineffective as the others but at least it's a lot cheaper.

      The survey data clearly shows that plenty of people are, or have been, prepared to go along with the blather as long as it doesn't cost them anything.

      That doesn't mean there is anything like an informed platform.

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    6. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      I am not really sure what you are expecting Geoff. Perhaps you are just a troll. Not sure.

      Are you expecting the weather to change that quickly? AGW is a very slow process, and, to the average person, barely noticeable. You can't tell that it is just a fraction of a degree more hot from one decade to the next, so, like John Howard, perhaps you are assuming that it just doesn't "feel right". That's the real problem isn't it. Accepting change and dealing with long term problems when it doesn't "feel that much hotter".

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    7. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to David Rennie

      David,
      The phrase 'accept the reality of global warming' is quite meanlingless since the vast majority of sceptics accept that there was some warming during the last century.

      This is part of Cook's deception. He uses poorly defined phrases such as 'climate change is happening' or 'climate change is real' or 'humans cause global warming' or 'x% of scientists endorse AGW'. All these phrases are meanlingless since they include a high proportion of sceptics.

      The real issue is whether human…

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  9. Nick Kermode

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Hi John, thanks for the article and links within. In your examination of this area and of Professor Jon Krosnick's work have you found an explanation for the extreme disconnect between the 70-80+ % of people that agreed "Warming will be a serious problem for the U.S." and the fact that only roughly 7-15% see the issue as" important personally (and is likely to influence voting)"? This really surprises me. Is non compulsory voting having a big effect in the US maybe?
    I also found it interesting…

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    1. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Nick Kermode

      Some reasons for the disconnect between peoples understanding of the dangers of climate change and their short term inaction may be found in an article that was on The Conversation only a few days ago.
      https://theconversation.com/putting-it-off-some-ideas-about-why-we-procrastinate-19374
      A related irony is why so many people who understand the dangers of smoking still smoke. We place far greater importance on the short term rather than long term. Smoking/Climate change wont kill you next week and 3 decades away is too far away to worry about.

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  10. Mark Pollock

    Analyst

    I just noticed the graphic leading the article. "What the world needs know, is climate savvy leadership"

    Not love love love.. These hippies have moved on. Not clean water for everyone, a malaria free life or even a bowl of rice a day for the billion or so living in absolute poverty. What the world needs now is a bumper sticker on every Pajero sayIng "this road hugging monster is powered by bio-diesel, I'm saving the planet - why aren't you?"

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    1. Adam Gilbert

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      You're right Mark. These people also probably believe it's possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.

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  11. Elena Berwick

    Accountant

    "One way they achieve this is by granting outlier voices disproportionate visibility in the public arena"

    Just ban their voices at all like some climate alarmists suggest. It is always nice to go back to Stalinism.
    I see that granting outlier voices disproportionate visibility is already here and implemented by some newspapers and media.

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    1. Adam Gilbert

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Elena Berwick

      *point missed*

      The problem is the DISPROPORTIONATE amount of space climate change denialism receives in our newspapers and on the radio. If one in every fifty articles was sympathetic to climate change denialism I wouldn't be too bothered, but in many publications climate change denialism is given the front seat, with articles based on actual science seemingly featured on the odd occasion for "balance".

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  12. Peter Turner
    Peter Turner is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Thinker

    Thank you for a reassuring and informative article. It would also be worthwhile to learn how many of the people that accept the reality of AGW perceive the threat as urgent and serious.

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    1. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Turner

      Yes, Peter. The majority of Australians and the majority of Australian MPs believe that climate change is happening and human induced.

      We should celebrate that shift in opinion and I believe it is being brought about by the numerous extreme weather events being recorded. But what is our collective response?

      Neither our political system nor the broad public are responding as we should. The next seismic shift in behaviour is dealing with our secondary denial, a much bigger problem. Matching our intellectual understanding of climate change with our individual behaviours and political policies.

      That hurdle is a much bigger one to jump over. But at least we are over the first major hurdle and let's be grateful for that!

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    2. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Peter Turner

      You can get an idea from the data in the article that John Cook uses. The AGW proposition gets about 80% support while the effect my voting gets around 10% support.

      Raising taxes to deal with the "problem" gets very little support.

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  13. Peter Turner
    Peter Turner is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Thinker

    I've just read through a large number of comments on this article - a lot read like an ongoing repartee between frequent commenters on Climate Change with only scant reference to the topic.

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  14. David Leigh

    logged in via Facebook

    'Pluralistic ignorance' what a great term and one that Tony Abbott is suffering from, me thinks. Winning an election, narrowly, is not the same as getting a mandate to do nothing on climate change mitigation. The figures noted in this article show this government is at odds with public opinion. Could it also be said that this government is at odds with itself on the same issue and that the tight-lipped conservatives will eventually break their silence?

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  15. Geoff Henley

    Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

    Again, Cook resorts to deception. He uses poorly defined phrases such as 'climate change is happening' or 'climate change is real' or 'humans cause global warming' or 'x% of scientists endorse AGW'. All these phrases are meaningless since they include a high proportion of sceptics.

    The real issue is whether human activities are causing the Earth the heat dangerously. None of the studies often cited by Cook and others test this assumption. The Doran paper only tells us that 97% of a relatively…

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