Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

What does ‘belief’ in climate change really mean?

Where one stands on “climate change” has been such a vexed and often confusing issue, at dinner parties, over coffee, with the taxi driver, and in terms of media reporting of where the Australian public…

Many Australians think they have experienced events associated with climate change. AAP Image/Tony McDonough

Where one stands on “climate change” has been such a vexed and often confusing issue, at dinner parties, over coffee, with the taxi driver, and in terms of media reporting of where the Australian public is at.

A simple reality is that most people are trying to make some reasonable sense of this seemingly profound threat, quite complex phenomenon, “the science”, and what seems to be happening in terms of global and local weather patterns and extreme weather events. And the myriad information lines available to us are often not much help, and the messages often confusing and conflicting. All, of course, further complicated by the contested politics, the carbon tax, and how to survive a climate change conversation. Not to mention, of course, the mediated nature of the average person’s encounters with climate change.

Looking through a psychological window sheds some light on all of this. We are all adaptively hard-wired to make reasonable sense of possible environmental threats. We keep a “weather eye” on noteworthy changes, the strange, the curious. When consequential environmental events or changes take place, we try (and need) to impose some sense and meaning on what is happening and why. We want to know who, if anyone, was responsible.

Sense making is very much about causal explanation or attribution, in human terms, and in ways that both answer the question of why and let us feel that we live in a coherent and reasonably ordered, and not too dangerous or unpredictable world.

Humans try to impose a sense of meaning on environmental events. We want to know why things happen. AAP

So let’s look at “climate change”. What exactly is it that has been so exhaustively covered by the media? Is it the phenomenon of changing weather patterns linked to atmospheric gases and their relative makeup. Is it the implied consequences of such changes? Is it the intertwined environmental, social, or political issues, or the debate about “the science”?

In this context, language like “attitudes about” or “beliefs in” climate change seems a bit strained. The issue is whether one accepts the earth’s climate has taken a different direction, influenced by recent human activities. Related questions are why is this happening, and what can or should be done about it?

This is where causal attribution - and human agency and responsibility - comes in. The science tells us that greenhouse gas emissions have “forced” the changes that are taking place. This sense-conferring explanation does not suggest that there are not many natural forces and atmospheric dynamics at play, but it does point to a rather pivotal human influence.

This human agency has real implications in terms of what can be done about this, how the problem and threat can be best addressed, and whether what is now set in train can be turned around. A level of human causality and agency also raises issues of responsibility, and a spectrum of emotions, including deep concern, felt loss, pessimism, and guilt.

We know that when human actions or technology are implicated in environmental changes, or disturb “natural” processes, the risk and danger becomes more elevated, more disturbing, more sinister. Climate change has something of this hybrid natural/technological disaster character, with human society likely poised to reap a bitter harvest and a dramatically altered environment.

But back to the starting question. What are we talking about when we talk about climate change? Documentaries like the ABC’s “I can change your mind about climate” tell us that “everyone agrees that climate is warming” and within a minute or two that “50% of Australians do not believe that climate change is happening.”

Is this reasonable, logically or psychologically? When people are discussing climate change, is the subject matter climate variability or contemporary, anthropogenic climate change? Would we really be having all of these discussions and debate about climate variability?

When humans are implicated in environmental change, the risk becomes more sinister. shek graham/Flickr

Why does this matter? When researchers are examining public risk perceptions and understandings about climate change, how they’re changing, and the psychological and social impacts that the threat of climate change might be having, it doesn’t make sense to ask whether respondents believe in or accept climate variability, and to treat the matter of human causality as something quite different.

It also does not make much sense to ask about or frame an individual’s risk perceptions or understandings in terms of believing or not believing in climate change, or asking whether climate change is exclusively caused by natural processes or by human activities and impacts. This latter has never been the climate change science question.

The great majority of our survey respondents, across two very substantial national surveys (N=7443 in total) accepted that climate change was happening (74%), and that its impacts were currently being felt in Australia (52%). As well, 45% reported personally encountering environmental changes they thought were likely due to climate change, and 59% thought where they lived was vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

When asked about the respective contributing roles of human activity impacts and natural causes in contemporary climate change, 84% said it was a combination of both.

So why is this matter and language of climate change “belief” so emotion-laden and polarising? Is it that this is a particularly disturbing threat and looming global disaster? Is it because such questions are not really about climate change per se, but about how we see ourselves, our political and social identity, and our own relationship with and felt responsibility for this shared world in which we live? Do responses reflect a new form of political correctness, depending on one’s party affiliation?

Many psychologists would argue that there is a good deal of defence and “terror management” taking place with respect to the spectre of climate change, with the world views and belief systems of some being rather badly shaken by current scientific assessments and projections, and frantically shored up, by discrediting the science, the scientists, and confronting documentaries.

The debate and conversational footwork about “where one stands” will continue, but our survey findings are actually very reassuring. They tell us that the Australian public by and large is making very reasonable and adaptive sense out of the somewhat chaotic and contradictory picture of climate change.

They are mostly very concerned, think that it is very important, feel a personal responsibility to be doing something about their own carbon footprint, and want their government to take clear and effective policy measures. They are taking action, trying to make a difference, and in the process reframing how they see themselves, their environment, and climate change.

This sounds more like psychological and behavioural adaptation to me than a matter of belief or conviction. It is a coming to terms with and acceptance of a significantly altered world and climate regime that we bear some responsibility for.

_The final report from the ARGP Project: Public Risk Perceptions, Understandings and Responses to Climate Change in Australia and Great Britain is now available for download from the NCCARF website.

Join the conversation

202 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Glynn Aaron

    logged in via Facebook

    That we bear SOME responsibility for????????? SOME?

    report
    1. Brian Deacon

      Lawyer

      In reply to Glynn Aaron

      As a lawyer I have some difficulty with responding to the question: Do you believe in climate change? My (albeit somewhat limited) reading on the subject causes me to consider that, on a balance of probabilities, the evidence suggests that human activity is affecting the world's climate. However, I'm always open to reconsidering the issue if convincing evidence is presented to the contrary. To date, such convincing evidence is clearly lacking. I suggest that climate change is probably occurring, and there is an onus on all humans to do as much as possible to reduce its impact.

      report
    2. Bruce Moon

      Bystander!

      In reply to Brian Deacon

      Brian

      May I suggest both sides of the 'debate' are in agreement that climate change IS occurring. The facts cannot be interpreted otherwise. The 2 sides are whether the cause of climate change is anthropocentric activity (and hence currently headed only one way) or a periodic solar induced situation.

      As an answer, I point you to Principle #15 of the Rio Convention...

      Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

      So, until the opposing views are resolved (irrespective of the side we stand), we choose to implement policies that serve to reverse the potential for environmental degradation.

      Cheers

      report
    3. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Bruce Moon

      That's it, Bruce. It's not about belief or disbelief, it's about letting the evidence accumulate and seeing where it points.

      But, as you say, may as well start doing something about it in anticipation.

      report
  2. Blair Donaldson

    logged in via Facebook

    "Belief in climate change" and "belief it's BS" seems to be the result of people not objectively assessing the available evidence and basing conclusions on that. Instead it seems to be looked at as some form of political battle.

    It is particularly sad that the political right in both the US and Australia have essentially junked reason and science to score cheap political points while the left hasn't had the courage to take a strong position either way.

    report
    1. Bruce Moon

      Bystander!

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair

      You essentially make 2 observations.

      1/.

      A distinction between two beliefs (for and against), and lay the 'cause' for the opponents as "not objectively assessing the available evidence". You may be quite right.

      I also see another 'cause'; cognitive dissonance. Like smokers continuing to smoke even though they know of the consequences, it is likely that some people will largely accept the dominantly accepted view about climate change but not want to involve themselves in the necessary…

      Read more
    2. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Bruce Moon

      Thanks Bruce. You have nailed it with cognitive dissonance point. Just a couple of weeks ago I was reading about the legislators in a US state on the East Coast who have effectively legislated sealevel rise out of existence. Never mind that it does happen and the various science organisations in the US accept the evidence to date.

      We are seeing a similar thing happening here in Queensland with the LNP apparently wanting to follow states in the south of the US and effectively minimise the teaching…

      Read more
    3. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair,
      Given the sweeping nature of this statement, I presume that you must be right wing. Am I correct?

      report
    4. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Philip, in my earlier years I was a liberal voter, later on for a variety of reasons I switched to the left and now I look for rational, truly independent independents even though they are unfortunately, scarce as hens teeth - most independents seem to be stooges for one or other of the main parties. I think anybody welded to a particular party, left or right, has rocks in the their head.

      About the only thing I respect is critical thinking and science which usually go hand-in-hand and as I said to Nancy, I'm happy to defer to expert in a particular field rather than the rantings of paranoid amateurs, particularly when those amateurs are driven by inane conspiracy theories.

      I hope I have answered your question.

      report
    5. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Thank you for your reply.

      report
  3. Tim Scanlon

    Debunker

    The great thing about science is that it is true whether you believe it or not.

    It is sad that people can't understand the difference between opinions/beliefs and science/facts. Sure, science hasn't had time to understand everything just yet, see how it all fits together, but that doesn't mean what it has measured and understood is wrong.

    report
    1. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Conventional sciencific belief, based on a consensus, has been proven wrong many many times in the past. To believe that science is always right is dangerous thinking. To think that all science, including applied science is benevolent in nature is also dangerous thinking. The atomic bomb is proof of that.

      report
    2. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      Ian your statement is completely flawed and an example of the anti-science sentiment that is seeking to drag society backward.

      First of all, you are assuming that science gets things wrong. That is incorrect thinking. The understanding of the science, the way it is observed is what is flawed. The instances where the "consensus" have been proved incorrect have actually been due to better evidence, usually actual evidence. The most famous instances, such as Galileo, were instances where science…

      Read more
    3. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim, you have misconstrued my meaning in the most negative way possible.
      Science can get things wrong when it is based on belief and consensus. Charles Darwin was loathe to publish his work on human evolution because he knew it would not be well recieved in the academies of science and the religious institutions of the time. Consensus is defined as 1. majority of opinion (The consensus of the group was that they should meet twice a month.) 2. general agreement or concord; harmony. It seems that not accepting the consensus viewpoint and expressing that causes massive disharmony, oh well such is life.

      Science and technology are benign (neither good nor bad) but it is the intent and/or application that shifts the balance and having the threat of nuclear holocaust hanging over our heads for generations is...

      report
    4. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      Science isn't about truth or belief - it's about the best possible model, based on evidence available at the time.

      Some things in science are based on incontrovertible evidence because, through technology, they are directly observable and measurable. This would include things like the shape of the earth, the thickness of a cell membrane, the sodium concentration in human serum.

      Other things, like climate change, the effects of breast feeding vs formula, the increase in obesity in some communities…

      Read more
    5. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      When people quote Galileo as an example of people refusing to accept evidence because of a prior belief, it generally indicates a lack of scientific literacy as Copernicus wrote "De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium" well before Galileo.

      http://galileo.rice.edu/chron/europe.html

      report
    6. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      Ian, of course science can get things wrong but that's how we learn. The underlying methodology of science is designed to eliminate errors as much as possible but I think you would be hard-pressed to find a science or a scientist in any field who hasn't made mistakes somewhere along the line.

      That said, as Sue has pointed out, consensus on particular subjects is generally arrived at as more evidence accumulates.

      Science doesn't require belief, only understanding and an acceptance of the evidence, even if it disagrees with your preconceived notions or pet ideas.

      report
    7. Joe Gartner

      Eating Cake

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Well,
      I'm a climate change sceptic, which means I have looked at the evidence sceptically and come to the conclusion that the atmosphere is warming and that it is most likely due to human activity via the release of Carbon compounds. To think otherwise would not be sceptical but ignorant or self deluded.
      No belief about it at all, happy to be proven wrong, happy to keep burning hydrocarbons if I can. In the interim, until the vast weight of expert opinion or evidence swings the other way, perhaps we should behave as if anthropogenic climate change is occurring, and occurring fast...

      report
    8. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      Agreed. I'd argue skepticism is the mark of a good scientist and good science. It certainly beats reading chicken entrails and wishful thinking.

      report
    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      I am forever hopeful of an immaculate conception Sue ... lots of praying, incense and trapping paracletes out in the paddock at random - but so far without much success. Requires an extra special intervention both being boys, and one being slightly less than that. Perhaps after Gillard makes gay marriage compulsory. Hope springs eternal. Nil desperandum.

      report
    10. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuRvBoLu4t0

      I urge anyone who thinks all science is worthy and nuclear weapon development didn't cause some regrets among the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project. Look at the sadness, the regret in the eyes of the brilliant man, Robert J. Oppenheimer. Do you think he was proud of their achievement? Do you think he was bragging when he quoted the Bhagavad Gita?

      They felt it was their duty, they felt it was a necessary evil. I have to ask the question, is there any such thing, any possible way that evil is necessary? To combat a greater evil? Surely that requires a righteous anger and a good heart, with knowledge of the damage done to oneself and pity for those led astray and onto an evil path? It's the little valued quality of empathy that defines us as human, in my humble opinion. R J Oppenheimer displayed it, many do not, in the modern world.

      report
    11. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      Few would dispute that the development of nuclear weapons has been of detriment to the world, but it has to be considered in the context of when and why it was done.

      And what, exactly, is the relevance of this comment to this topic?

      One could equally well point to the great contributions science has made to human well being - from the invention of sanitation through to the discovery of anibiotics and many other things besides - the list is practically endless.

      Science, being a human endeavour, is subject to frailties and misuse - but would you seriously argue we would better off without it? Try and imagne a world still subject to the dictates of a clergy intent on keeping the masses ignorant and illiterate and willing to persecute genuine seekers of truth - an appelation which you wear but do not appear to follow.

      I feel genuinely sorry for someone with such a dismal world view Ian

      report
    12. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Sorry Mark but I was replying to Tim, as I was in an earlier post when I said science and technology are, in themselves benign but without science, I wouldn't understand certain things about plants and soil, such as how plants take up nutrient, why certain soils have better fertillity than other types of soils and how plants have developed multiple strategies to deal with shortages.
      I also understand that the very best organic practices must be informed by science on how nature provides the things…

      Read more
    13. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Err, Galileo had no problems with Copernicus's evidence.

      It was the Church which took issue with Galileo.

      report
    14. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to David Arthur

      You are guilty of personification.

      report
  4. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Nancy Whittaker

      "It is perfectly possible to have different opinions on each of these questions."
      True. But if you want to have accurate opinions (or at least opinions with a much higher likelihood of being accurate), then becoming familiar with the widespread scientific understanding of the basics of climatology is crucial. Each of your questions (let's for the moment put a bracket around the last) have good answers with very well developed theories and data supporting them. Those who diverge from this understanding…

      Read more
    2. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Nancy Whittaker

      You have a reasonably high red "score" Nancy. At this site, that generally means that you are a complete ratbag or somebody who makes perfect sense.
      You make perfect sense.
      Unfortunately too many ratbags here are so full of passion for their preconceived views that they fail at basic comprehension. It concerns that rather than teasing out subtleties and nuances, one is instead confronted with the thunderbolts of URLs - many of limited relevance and only partially read - and lightning strikes of…

      Read more
    3. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Nancy Whittaker

      Nancy Whitaker - when you ask these questions of people who are not climate scientists, on what basis would you expect them to formulate a "belief"?

      It's like asking "do you believe that meningitis should be treated with antibiotics?" - you either are a clinician or scientist who knows about the clinical sciences and infectious diseases - or you accept the opinion of those who are.

      You might also ask "do you believe that longevity is increasing in our population?" You could either do the original research yourself, or you could accept the data from the Bureau of Statistics.

      It's not about "belief".

      report
    4. In reply to Byron Smith

      Comment removed by moderator.

    5. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Hi Sue, I agree science is not about 'belief'. I do think treating menangitis is different from AGW, however, because there's more empirical evidence for the first.

      report
    6. In reply to Byron Smith

      Comment removed by moderator.

    7. In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Comment removed by moderator.

    8. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Nancy Whittaker

      Thanks for the reasoned reply, Nancy.

      I have a different opinion, however, about people's ability to evaluate evidence outside their area of training or specialism.

      Looking at your first sentence: how could I (personally) form an opinion on climate science:
      "the evidence they have been presented with" - I don't have training or experience in climate science, so, although I am scientifically literate in my own area, I can't express an informed opinion on the original science.

      "the social…

      Read more
    9. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      I agree Sue. What is telling I think is that you are wise enough to understand that it is unlikely that you could and also not arrogant enough that assume that you have.

      But Nancy is probably correct about how most people Do form their beliefs and opinions.

      As Daniel Kahneman (noble prize winning economist who has studied decision making theory from a psychological perspective and has some brilliant insights) puts it - most people unconsciously substitute a simpler question that they can deal…

      Read more
    10. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Perhaps, James, although there are still "germ theory" deniers around.

      A better example might be vaccination - where there is abundant and incontrivertable evidence of benefit (and also some acknowledged rare harm), but the media still likes to trot out the anti-vaccination "balance". In the absence of an informed balance (I'm not sure you would find an anti-vax paediatrician or immunologist), they trot out the cranks, as if their opinion held validity.

      As I said above: where there is true dissent amongst an informed group of experts in the field, there is real room for debate.

      When the discussion is about attitudes rather than facts, by all means weigh in, one and all.

      IN the absense

      report
    11. In reply to Gerard Dean

      Comment removed by moderator.

  5. Ian Donald Lowe

    Seeker of Truth

    I have looked at the science, especially the IPCC report and I have done a fair bit of research on the data available and the argument from both sides. I have reached a few conclusions of my own that could be described as beliefs but I am still open minded because what I have 'believed' has often been proven wrong in the past.
    1. I believe the science in the IPCC report was dodgy. The statiscal data was very selective to meet the desired outcome and I believe that is bad science.
    2. I believe the…

    Read more
    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      Ian. You say "beliefs require faith". That would be my point of departure - my beliefs require evidence.

      For example you claim "I believe that a great portion of any recorded global warming is attributable to increased solar intensity"

      That is something we can and do measure.
      "Over the last 30 years of global warming, the sun has shown a slight cooling trend. Sun and climate are going in opposite directions. "
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm

      Does your belief system allow you to change your mind when the facts do not support your beliefs?

      report
    2. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike, the first sentence is fairly close to how I think as well and I have done the research, looked at the evidence and now I need faith in my ability to interpret all of that evidence into these 10 points, although these are just 10 points and not 100% inclusive and my research may seem inadequate but I can assure you I did the very best I could with the tools available to me and with good intent.

      The bit about solar activity, well all I can do is provide a link to a page with information that shows that solar activity must be increasing as the visible evidence has nothing to do with greenhouse effect or human activity.

      http://www.enterprisemission.com/warming.htm

      I think I answered your final question in my opening paragraph.

      report
    3. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike I did read the page you linked to, please allow me time to digest and re-read and do more research before I draw or change any conclusions based solely on that page. It would be a courtesy as well if you could take the time to read the page I linked. Thank you.

      report
    4. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Gary, you have a lot of links at your fingertips but what is that supposed to prove exactly?
      If solar intensity is decreasing and signs of warming are visible on planets further from the sun than Earth, what is the cause? Is it shifts in hyperdimensional energy (which sounds a bit whacky, without further research) or is it possible it might be something more localised?

      I really don't have the time to read all the material you linked to at this point in time, my mind is focused on achieving something important to deal with another 'problem' we are facing. I hope you can understand that.

      report
    5. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      Ha Ha. Very funny Ian. I must send my crank detector in for a grease and oil change.

      " Hyperdimensional Physics. This new science, born out of the oft-criticized (but never refuted) Geometric Alignment Model of Cydonia"

      That is some serious woo you have going there.

      report
    6. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      "hyperdimensional energy (which sounds a bit whacky ..."

      Ian - it does not just sound wacky, it is wacky. I can understand why you are attracted to climate science denialism.

      The source of these crank ideas is this guy
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_C._Hoagland

      "Richard Charles Hoagland is an American author, and a proponent of various conspiracy theories about NASA, lost alien civilizations on the Moon and on Mars and other related topics.
      His writings claim that advanced civilizations exist or once existed on the Moon, Mars and on some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and that NASA and the United States government have conspired to keep these facts secret."

      report
    7. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike,

      One of the mistakes we make when dealing with deeply irrational people is to try and explain or use reason with them. This simply feeds their sense of conspiracy and their quixotic delusions. They need to be taken seriously. They hunger for it. It's the argument they love.

      Seriously, have a read of that APA paper - its sets out an interesting and useful framework for dealing with them. Reason and fact is not an option.

      report
    8. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I'm sorry you feel that way Peter (The inference that I am deeply irrational is what I am refering to here.) as we have had some reasonable conversations on other subjects on this site. Why does everyone think I am a "skeptic" just because I have doubts about the veracity of the science presented and the efficacy of a carbon tax. These seem perfectly reasonable positions to me.

      To Mark.
      The site I refered you to had visible, checkable evidence of a phenomena that has not been well explained by…

      Read more
    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      No I wouldn't consider you as deeply irrational Ian... questioning the science and the theory is fine by me. But ascribing the science behind global warming to international scientific conspiracies, denying the evidence and inventing new and evidence-free theories to explain away the evidence is in my view a pathological condition, not a scientific position.

      As for your skepticism re the Carbon Trading System - I too am doubtful that it will deliver sufficient price signals in sufficient time. But it is perhaps all that is possible given the politics of the situation. We'll see. We don't have long to wait.

      report
    10. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      See what happens when I get overly tired? I start making typo's and errors and forget to self-edit before posting. (to be fair on myself, I'm sort of used to having an edit button to fix those gaffes)
      I even used the term solar activity in the above post when I really meant to use the term solar intensity and the visible evidence only shows that there is a visible warming phenomena occuring elsewhere in the solar system that cannot be ascribed to human activity and has not been well explained by anyone, especially the theory of hyperdimensional energy shift. Cranky = stubborn and defensive in this particular incident.

      report
    11. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      All of these red marks for speaking my mind in a non-aggressive manner?
      I bet most of them didn't even bother reading the entire comment before passing judgement.
      Nobody has asked the obvious question, so I guess no-one wants to know why I think the science was flawed?

      report
    12. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      I don't want to know why you think the science is flawed - I want to know ON WHAT BASIS you express that opinion.

      First, please tell us your training and experience in the physical sciences, in original research, research methods and data analysis.

      The please take us through how the data were collected and analysed, and your critique of the methodology.

      report
    13. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      How dare you suggest that I am unqualified to pass comment on this article Sue, I may be unqualified to perform medical procedures but this is an open forum and the last time I checked (hard to say for sure these days) I am entitled to express my opinion and beliefs especially when the article purports to discuss beliefs.
      Who are you anyway, besides a fancy title that could mean nurse?
      My father raised me never to accept anything on face value and don't be afraid to ask questions, as a result I…

      Read more
    14. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      And who writes wikipedia ?

      report
    15. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      WOW - I've clearly hit a nerve.

      Mr Lowe, I know from my own area of specialism that, to adequately undertake critical analysis of the literature in one's own area of practice, a great deal of skill is required. I have thirty years of active clinical practice in acute hospitals, but I still need to attend regular journal clubs, seminars and conferences to keep in touch with critical appraisal of the research in my own specialty area.

      You could say that, with a science-based education, and a…

      Read more
    16. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      No one is stopping you from saying why. But I suggest you had best base your reply on evidence rather than assertion

      report
    17. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      Ian, what about ice, lake and ocean core samples, changes in ocean acidity, temperature and CO2 levels? Changes in the types and numbers of foraminifera etc suggest the modelling, conclusions and warnings are on the right track?

      Like you I've done my best to try and understand the science and assess the evidence for and against AGW. I've heard many researchers explain how and why they have reached the conclusions they have and how they do their best to account for such things as changes in solar…

      Read more
    18. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      "I really don't have the time to read all the material you linked to at this point in time, my mind is focused on achieving something important to deal with another 'problem' we are facing. I hope you can understand that."

      They are simple graphs Ian - shouldn't take too much time.
      If you don't have time to look at the evidence - why do you come on here spouting nonsense?

      report
    19. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Obviously just more people who are part of the vast global conspiracy.

      report
    20. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      At one stage, West Ryde had been moved to the North Shore in Sydney. For three months, students at Manly High School had a rather interesting of their school accepted as reliable as some of the earlier quoted urls.
      In fact, all one has to do is to create a website or two, load it up with your own "facts" and then use them as references for your wikipedia editing.

      report
    21. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      Ian, if you claim to not have the time to learn about the topic, then ethically you should abstain from expressing a view.

      To Gary's list, I'd add Spencer Weart's book "The Discovery of Global Warming - a History". It's also available as a set of hyperlinked essays at the website of the American Institute of Physics (http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.htm). That should clarify the issue.

      Meanwhile, here's my potted summary.

      Earth is warmed by absorption of short wave sunlight. Because…

      Read more
    22. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      So, were these errors subsequently corrected, or do they remain there as willful distortion of public understanding (what a conspiracy!) ?

      report
  6. Daniel John Chaston

    PhD Candidate

    Whilst I agree with most of this article there is a significant statistical problem with this statement:

    "As well, 45% reported personally encountering environmental changes they thought were likely due to climate change".

    Information on climate change comes from 1000s of observations carried out by 1000s of stations around the planet. The observations of a single individual could in no way have enough statistical power to truly determine whether environmental phenomena are due to climate change.

    This particular measure has about as much merit as the taxi driver who says "I haven't felt it getting warmer, so I don't believe climate change is happening"

    The root of the problem with public perception of climate change is that normal people don't accept that it is too complex to understand without the proper training.

    report
  7. John Kelmar

    Small Business Consultant

    Unfortunately many politicians throughout the world have hijacked the concept of climate change in order to extract more money from the population.
    Climate Change as portrayed is not more than a massive con, akin to the "War of the Worlds" scenario in the 1930's.
    If climate change was really happening then oceans would rise - but that happened many thousands of years ago, so ifthey rise, then perhaps they are just returning to the level of the past. This is just like tidal movements, but over a longer period.
    The weather moves in cycles - a the moment it is cold in the night, and warm during the day, and in a few months it will become warm in the night and hot during the day. This is not evidence of climate change, as our politicians will have us believe, but seasonal changes.

    report
    1. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Those final two links on antartica don't really give clear and easy to understand data.
      Let's have a look at what the stations say:
      http://www.john-daly.com/stations/mawson.gif
      http://www.john-daly.com/stations/casey.gif
      The source site : http://www.john-daly.com/stations/stations.htm hasn't been updated in over a decade but they do have comprehensive historical records going back to 1954 & 1957 repectively from the two stations I linked. The second is somewhat better as it shows both annual and seasonal mean temperatures, to allow for seasonal variation. I would prefer a more comprehensive record, with as much recorded data as possible and nothing excluded. These were Australian scientists doing the recording so I trust that they did the job right.

      report
  8. Marc Hendrickx

    Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

    "So why is this matter and language of climate change “belief” so emotion-laden and polarising?"

    Because a small number of misguided activists with a disproportionate amount of political influence, who rely on a form of fundamentalism impervious to the scientific method, have misunderstood the extent of our influence on the climate and in doing so they have exaggerated the threat? In the process they have diverted attention away from more important problems that will arise as we continue to shape the planet to meet our expanding needs. .

    report
    1. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      yes you certainly are!

      By the way what's with the new pic? A two fingered salute to the rest of us? And no mention of your place of work? WUWT!

      report
    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      "a small number of misguided activists"

      Is this who you were thinking of Marc

      The following scientific organizations endorse the consensus position that most of the global warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities":
      American Association for the Advancement of Science
      American Astronomical Society
      American Chemical Society
      American Geophysical Union
      American Institute of Physics
      American Meteorological Society
      American Physical Society
      Australian Coral Reef Society…

      Read more
    3. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      It is a universal sign for my appreciation of a genre of music. It is not a "two fingered salute". I suggest you watch the documentaries by Sam Dunn to understand the sign's origins.

      And you'll notice that I'm logged in using Facebook. I'll only be using my account here for articles to keep it easier for me.

      report
    4. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Ahh a head banger, well that explains a lot.

      report
    5. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      No I had activists like you in mind. Those who thoughtlessly cut and paste from the kookite bible.

      You might like to ask the chief priest to update that list. The link for instance to the GSA statement no longer works  because its members (I am one) objected strongly to its alarmist contents and it was withdrawn. Those statements are not written in concrete and as the models continue to mismatch the observations I predict more of those statements will be re-written, much to the embarrassment of…

      Read more
    6. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Many more broken links there. Here's one that worked...Note that the lack of alarm. Not that Mike would notice, he sees what he wants to see.

      Adopted 2 June 2004

      The American Geophysical Union (AGU) notes that human impacts on the climate system include increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is significantly contributing to the warming of the global climate. The climate system is complex, however, making it difficult to predict detailed outcomes of human-induced change: there is as yet no definitive theory for translating greenhouse gas emissions into forecasts of regional weather, hydrology, or response of the biosphere. As the AGU points out, our ability to predict global climate change, and to forecast its regional impacts, depends directly on improved models and observations.

      report
    7. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Nothing racist there. Here is what was stated....More misrepresentation from the kookite king.

       You add the network of African banana republics your cut and paste list.   Let's see if there is anyone amongst the fellows of the Cameroon, Sudan, Ugandan, Nigerian Academies etc etc with the  necessary background and expertise to  make a sound judgement on climate change attribution or are they just jumping on a funding band wagon?

      Nope couldn't find one name amongst those academy fellows that featured prominently in the climate change literature. I guess they don't want to rock that un ipcc boat that pays for those tropical holidays.

      report
    8. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Keep up Marc,

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/apr/23/southern-africa-climate-research-centre

      http://www.wascal.org/

      or have a look at what the World Bank is doing:

      http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/AFRICAEXT/0,,contentMDK:22410211~pagePK:146736~piPK:146830~theSitePK:258644,00.html

      The slide show multi-media thing (bottom right) is worth a look.

      The conspirators are everywhere....

      Nothing racist - just ignorant.

      report
    9. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      You don't delve too deeply do you Peter. None of the links are to peer reviewed papers in credible journals. The first link is to a German funded research program not surprisingly dominated by German researchers. Keep it up mate, you are not ignorant just intellectually shallow.

      report
    10. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      No it's Friday night ... but I never delve too deeply when discussing climate change with geologists.

      Now had you read both the South African and West African clips I forwarded to you you would see that so far some 17 African nations have established climate research centres this year - ALL with German dough... Soon there will be a torrent of data and analysis coming out of Africa. They have some pretty sharp scientists over there actually, just no organisation. Now they do.

      the conspiracy is everywhere Marc...

      The World Bank one is even scarier.

      Tentacles everywhere. Sleep tight.

      report
    11. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim, you really shouldn't believe the headlines. The terms "not hard working" and, "low self esteem" seem more appropriate. Seems Jazz/Blues fans are the most intelligent!

      The first study...
      "The researchers surveyed 1,057 members of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth - a body whose 120,000 student members are within the top five per cent academically in the 11-19 age range.
      Asked for their favourite type of music, 39 per cent said rock, 18 per cent R&B and 14 per cent pop. Six…

      Read more
    12. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes nothing like German efficiency.

      Those tentacles: in your dreams Peter - not mine. Sleep like a baby.

      report
    13. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Let me get this straight: you're telling me not to read the headlines or cite newspapers, then you refute my points with headlines and newspapers. Good to see you spent that 2 hours digging up a news article that said something different rather than reading the actual science.

      Surprise, surprise, you haven't read the science and understood what was actually going on. To quote the author of one of the papers, Adrian North: "The general public has held a stereotype of heavy metal fans being suicidally…

      Read more
    14. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Actually Tim the gesture in your image, when turned around (palm facing forward) is a symbol for 'The Beast'.
      I like Heavy Metal as well. Have you ever listened to the lyrics of War Pigs by Black Sabbath?

      report
    15. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      I didn't say not to read the headlines, just not to believe them. Nice to see your confirmation bias is consistent across the disciplines.

      report
    16. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike,
      My kids use this kind of argument. "All my friends have iPods/iPhones/etc. All my friends dress this way. All my friends' parents let them stay out late."

      report
    17. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      So the "small number of misguided activists" argument is now in the bin and we are arguing about the actual position of the world's scientific bodies.

      Here is part of the current AGU Position
      http://www.agu.org/sci_pol/positions/climate_change2008.shtml
      "During recent millennia of relatively stable climate, civilization became established and populations have grown rapidly. In the next 50 years, even the lower limit of impending climate change—an additional global mean warming of 1°C above the last decade—is far beyond the range of climate variability experienced during the past thousand years and poses global problems in planning for and adapting to it. Warming greater than 2°C above 19th century levels is projected to be disruptive, reducing global agricultural productivity, causing widespread loss of biodiversity, and—if sustained over centuries—melting much of the Greenland ice sheet with ensuing rise in sea level of several meters"

      report
    18. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc - Ignorant racist garbage designed to appeal to the same demographic that Bolt appeals to.

      You brag about having influenced the GSA statement on climate change **despite having no climate science publications** but then state

      " Let's see if there is anyone amongst the fellows of the Cameroon, Sudan, Ugandan, Nigerian Academies etc etc with the necessary background and expertise to make a sound judgement on climate change attribution or are they just jumping on a funding band wagon?

      Nope couldn't find one name amongst those academy fellows that featured prominently in the climate change literature. I guess they don't want to rock that un ipcc boat that pays for those tropical holidays."

      Vile and ignorant.

      report
    19. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      All those African academies and not a single paper in a reputable journal. Rather odd that you would regard this fact as a sign of racism. It is merely is a statement of fact. But we have seen you resort to such underhanded tactics in the past, calling names when you are out of ammo. What next another link to the Kookite literature.

      Publications? In fact I have one....a modest contribution, but a contribution none the less.
      http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2010/06/07/rsbl.2010.0053/reply#roybiolett_el_31
      Now how many do you have?

      report
    20. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      BTW, Seems it's now worth responding. Mike HAnson certainly a man of his word. LOL.

      report
    21. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Here's what was stated.." You add the network of African banana republics your cut and paste list.   Let's see if there is anyone amongst the fellows of the Cameroon, Sudan, Ugandan, Nigerian Academies etc etc with the  necessary background and expertise to  make a sound judgement on climate change attribution or are they just jumping on a funding band wagon."

      Your mission then, if you choose to accept it, is to locate a fellow of an African Academy with a publication in a reputable science journal. Not just an African Scientist.

      The only African scientist on the paper you link to (Todd Ngara) is not a member of an African Academy of Science. 

      Care to try again. 

      report
    22. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      "To find stuff out one needs to go looking. It's a fairly important principle of science that."

      Another, is to check what the question is.

      report
    23. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      From the conclusions to that paper...

      "The extent to which those rainfall variations are related to greenhouse gas induced global warming remains undetermined"

      "To find stuff out one needs to go looking. It's a fairly important principle of science that."

      Another, is to check what the question is.
      And another to check whether article cited supports your argument. If it doesn't then you might need to change your mind.

      report
    24. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      The fruits of your labour again...

      "The extent to which those rainfall variations are related to greenhouse gas induced global warming remains undetermined"

      Best stick to that tractor... go digger.

      report
    25. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Aw heck Marc, you write in Quadrant ... I didn't realise I was wasting my time so utterly.

      I've re-read what you actually stated above in your dismissal of African scientists - and I reconsider my initial reaction ... not just ignorant of African science but yes racist as well. And here was I trying to make excuses for you.

      report
    26. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      So now pointing out hypocrisy is tantamount to racism, odd world you inhabit.

      report
    27. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      That consensus statement again...Where this began.

      "The following scientific organizations endorse the consensus position that most of the global warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities":

      report
    28. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      The truth is out, the lies are old
      But you don't want to know

      Well, he doesn;t :)

      report
    29. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      I'm still waiting for Mr Hendrickx to demonstate his adherence to his public statement that

      ""The role of the scientist in this debate, is as it has been: to continue to diligently report the facts, test the theories, to be honest, to be skeptical, to avoid hyperbole, to properly outline the errors and uncertainties, to avoid activism."

      And tackle the posts of Mr Klein who clearly violates most of these tenets.

      Come on Marc! Be a Rock of principle. Stand up for what you Believe in! :)

      report
    30. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      I think Mr Klein's views were adequately addressed and I saw no need to pile on, However I'm flattered that you think my opinion worth a thought.

      I have adhered to my axiom on this post pointing out the hypocrisy of the African Academies of science that do not appear to have a single Fellow qualified to comment on attribution in climate change with (apparently) no papers published in reputable journals, yet they are prepared to sign onto any old statement that appears outside their area of expertise. I wonder whether those millions of German Marks had anything to do with it. To cap it off the single paper dragged up by Peter Ormond actually contradicts the consensus statement. For this I get accused by Mike Hansen of Racism.

      report
    31. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Do you agree or diagree with Mr Kleins comments. yes or no? It's a simple question.

      If No what happened to "properly outline the errors"

      Selective application of your "princples" possibly????

      report
    32. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      As stated I saw no reason to pile on. I preferred, in this case, to point out the vast misrepresentations, inaccuracies and hypocrisies of others, such as yourself.

      report
    33. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Correcting your misrepresentations takes away from the time I might spend assisting others. You can help by not posting so much BS. If I wrote that in Aramaic would it make more sense to you?

      report
    34. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Assisting?? Oh, is that what you call it.

      You can see how grateful everyone is for this "Assistance" from the voting you score.

      When you successfully demonstrate with evidence a misrepresentation that you are even capable of correcting it might count for something. Alas that appears beyond you. Still haven't answerd the simple question, Y or N. Do you agree with Mr Klein or Not.

      Oh, I see, being clear would take too much of your time?? Takes away from your time spent on ad-homs I suppose :)

      Ciao Marc

      report
  9. Peter Ormonde
    Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Farmer

    Interesting piece. Very comforting survey results. Not quite as irrational as we have been led to believe.

    There is an extremely interesting discussion regarding Climate Change denial off in the wings while the APA is developing DSMV.

    In essence, the irrationality at the core of denial carries many of the hallmarks of a psychiatric syndrome. It is not that the vast bulk of denialists understand and dispute the science; it is the implications of the science that drive some folks - deeply…

    Read more
    1. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,

      You have a distorted view of reality...sad really sad.

      Your fighting an invisible army of disbelievers which simply doesn't exist in the numbers your arguement portrays.

      It's the abuse of environmentalism and climate change measures by corporate entities, pollies that people don't believe in the majority, not whether homo erectus has had an effect.

      Have a listen all the way to the end of this short video from lateline and you will see the abuse of the system used to pollute more.

      http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2011/s3331364.htm

      report
    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Well I watched the Lateline clip...

      Yep you have to admire the ingenuity of the corporate sector.... awlays with an eye out for the sharp angle, fiddling the books and using accountants to invent a profit.

      Trouble is there is no cheating this stuff Wade. The atmosphere will just know there's more greenhouse gas about and respond accordingly.

      Must admit - as I regularly do - that I am most skeptical that private enterprise and greed can actually sort this mess out. The whole idea of a…

      Read more
    3. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Nancy Whittaker

      Nancy, is there something specific about climate science that offends you or you disagree with? If so, what is it?

      Do you have any qualifications pertaining to climate science? I readily admit I don't, so, just as I would not go to a mechanic if I had some concerns about my heart, I tend not to listen much to the opinions of amateurs when it comes to science, any science, but particularly important matters like climate science.

      Do you have a house or car insurance? If so, why given that the odds are you are unlikely to ever need either?

      report
    4. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Hi Blair, good point about listening to experts.

      Most people talking about climate change = whether warning about AGW or thinking it's nonsense - have no expertise in climate science.

      I think one issue is that climate change has entered public policy - we pay a tax, for example, to prevent what experts say will happen otherwise. So this is about money, perhaps?

      But it has to be more complex than that. Lots of other issues are about money, and no-one cares. The public is happy to pay high salaries to expert engineers to design our bridges. Why are they not happy to pay a carbon tax?

      report
    5. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to James Jenkin

      I think the key problem is politics unfortunately. The science has been usurped for blatant political ends. You only need to look at the commentary from the right in the US and Australia to see how reason, data and reasonable prevention have been discarded.

      I have a simple response to those who want to argue that climate science and the associated warnings are over the top, I suggest they do a little homework finding out why international insurance companies have reassessed and increased the costs of insurance cover and the US military is investing billions into mitigating the effects of AGW.

      report
    6. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Spot on Blair - not politics in the narrow partisan sense - but values and belief systems.

      In particular the notion of climate change strikes at the heart of the Panglossian notion - that we live in the best of all possible worlds - that compliance, conformity and hard work brings its rewards and those rewards will be more and bigger things.

      The idea that things are not going to script - that there are limits and problems with the established order of things - is a heresy of the most existential kind.

      And so we have accountants, engineers and computer technicians wailing and moaning that this cannot - must not - be true. They will not allow it. That 53 angels fit on the pinhead as any fool can see. And that this is how it always was and always will be.

      Change - even the idea of it - can be most most alarming. True conservatives, clinging like limpets to their rocks.

      report
    7. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter Ormonde: "... we have accountants, engineers and computer technicians wailing and moaning that this cannot - must not - be true."
      Mustn't forget the geologists.

      report
    8. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to David Boxall

      Yeah... what is it with geologists? Is it the fact that a lot of them work for mining companies? Too much time underground?

      Actually I have a few mates who are geomorphologists ... looking at dynamics of landscape formation, coastlines and so forth - ongoing processes. They don't seem to share the geologists' horror at the notion of a climate being affected by human activity and that we should try and do something about it. So it's not just the rocks.

      report
    9. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter Ormonde: "So it's not just the rocks." Perhaps it's the location of the rocks.

      report
    10. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I have put thought into the idea that so many neo-cons are into denial about the impact of AGW, not so much because they believe in a great science led conspiracy (i think that is a Moby Dick of a red herring), but due to the fact they realise that for humans to have any hope of ameliorating the damage; nations, corporations, governments, councils, suburbs, neighbours will have to cooperate with each other.

      The foundation of neo-con libertarianism is one of "its all about me" and is placed under…

      Read more
    11. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, don't underestimate the religious connotations either. If you scratch the surface of your average climate change denialist, you'll likely find a fair bit of fundamentalist religion fuelling the flames. Certainly not in every case but many.

      That's the weird thing though, they believe their particular God created everything for men (especially men) and wax lyrical about the perfect creations of this same God then happily go about trashing the environment it supposedly created for them.

      It's also no surprise that people who think a God created everything have a tenuous understanding of even basic science.

      report
    12. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Curse you Blair Donaldson, I had stopped thinking about religion for the entire afternoon.

      However, I agree. Although trashing the planet is not so weird if you have the Rapture to look forward to.

      report
    13. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      :-) I have been told by more than a few creationists and fundamentalists that a jolly good rapturing (rupturing?) Is good for the soul.

      Sorry for polluting your afternoon by mentioning the big G - I shall go and sacrifice a goat…

      report
    14. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Mr Donaldson, no goats shall be sacrificed in my name!

      instead I expect a night of quaffing a good red, eating of much shellfish (G hates that) and the jolly consenting rogering of your loved one.

      report
    15. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Sleep easy Dianna, consider the goats reprieved. I shall follow your sage advice regarding the red and shellfish, the rogering bit… well… two out of three ain't bad…

      report
    16. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Spot on Blair - it's all based on how you interpret Gensis 1, verse 26.

      The original Hebrew states

      וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ; וְיִרְדּוּ בִדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּבַבְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל-
      הָאָרֶץ, וּבְכָל-הָרֶמֶשׂ, הָרֹמֵשׂ עַל-הָאָרֶץ

      For which the standard translation is

      "And God said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle…

      Read more
    17. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      So Harrigan is now a fluent Hebrew linguist, LOL.
      Blair, there are quite a few deists on the alarmist side as well, perhaps more so. Mike Hulme chief among them. The mormon Barry Bickmore another. Mike Harrigan's faith in a Gaia also paints him as strongly suspect for the worship of weird and wonderful beings.

      report
    18. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Sigh - so many errors and deliberate mis-interpreatations - true to from Mr hendricks

      1) Im Mark, not Mike

      2) I explcitly renounced any claim to be a linguist in relation to hebrew - merely offered the point as one of interest (and anyone can verify my points of they wish - nand I would welcome a real hebrew scholar to elucidate/calrify)

      3) I have never professed a faith in Gaia (or anything else for that matter)

      4) Deism is not a disqualification from having an educated understanding…

      Read more
    19. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Nancy Whittaker

      Gday Ms Whitaker,

      Here are the observations which are made.
      Observation 1. Sun irradiates earth with short-wave energy.
      Observation 2. Earth re-radiates long-wave energy.
      Observation 3. Greenhouse gases retard transmission of long-wave energy, not short-wave energy.
      Observation 4. Arctic sea ice is melting, so that summertime sunlight is being absorped in exposed ocean rather than reflected off ice.
      Observation 5. Greenland and Antarctic ice is melting, increasing the rate of sea level rise…

      Read more
    20. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      replied to that below.

      report
    21. Margaret Rose STRINGER

      retired but interested

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Hmm... no: apparently skirt-gathering is not the only totally subjective method of public argument. It seems that Wade's response is how rational debate is conducted, now - making wonderfully sweeping claims re everyone _else_.
      By all the gods we ever invented! - can't we just speak for ourselves, every last one of us, and stand by what we say, regardless?

      report
    22. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nancy Whittaker

      I partly agree. Illness is poor terminology and unnecessarily confrontational.

      We have to accept that denial is an absolutely natural human response afflicting a person who is confronted by a negative prognosis that he or she can not cope with.

      We need to deal with that human psychology with compassion and appreciate that, in time, most of those in a state of denial will come around in time. Not fast enough maybe, so our task is to understand how to accelerate their personal journey through to acceptance.

      Badgering those in a state of denial is probably not the best way to do that.

      report
  10. Marc Hendrickx

    Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

    "Joseph Reser receives funding from the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, and Griffith Climate Change Response Program"

    What an utter waste of tax payers money!
    Tell us Joe, how you justify wasting those precious dollars.

    report
    1. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Further, his paper indicates the involvement of the Department of Climate Change.
      Yet while it indicates Federal funding at least in part, the Department has a "no reponsibility" statement.
      So it says that it is worth spending taxpayers money on the research, but that if a citizen takes action based on the information in it then it can't be held responsible.

      report
  11. Garry Baker

    researcher

    For good reason the vast majority should not get too bogged down with discussions about brain operations - ie: Few know much about the subject. So it is with the science of climate change, yet the daily media and politicians alike would have it that a popularity poll (a belief system, derived from chatter) should determine our course of action, and once the poll tilts in favour of doing something, then we will be on the road to being well again.

    It's sad because the climate disease has progressed…

    Read more
  12. Berthold Klein

    Civil-Environmental engineer

    This is a responce to Glenn Tamblyn from a previous blog where comments have been closed.
    Glenn Tamblyn commented:

    "Berthold Some time ago I asked a question of you and never got an answer - see below for the details. Specifically I was looking for a citation to a paper in a journal. Not some commentary from Joe Postma, not one of your copy and paste dumps. A journal reference or nothing. I am willing to wait another 2 days for such a reply. Then I will post my response come what may. I am willing…

    Read more
  13. John Coochey

    Mr

    I think this shows the uselessness of surveys with vague questions but I still await the question which has taken this subject off ABC local radio to be answered. Tim Flannery the Chief Climate Commissioner is on record as claiming high sea level rises but owns two waterfront properties on the Hawkesbury, He also claims that if all human activity ceased it would take a thousand years for temperatures to drop, Any Pitman of the Australian National University was asked the same question and answered twenty to thirty years! When Ian Chubb ex Vice Chancellor of the ANU and now Chief Scientist went on air to "defend the science" I went on air to ask him who was right because they both could not be. His answer was quote " I would not have a clue, not a clue!". So if the Chief Scientist does not have a clue who does and can someone tell me who is right Flannery or Pitman.

    report
  14. Berthold Klein

    Civil-Environmental engineer

    This is a responce to Mark Chambers from a closed post.
    Mark to answer your question in few words -Yes most if not all “Climate deniers” do know more about the physics of the atmosphere that the majority of scientists.

    Section 2
    2. Is it likely that the minority of scientists have a better understanding of 'the laws of physics' than the majority of scientists ??
    I'll answer this first ,then explain why I think this. This is a very subjective view some I'm sure many well think otherwise.
    I…

    Read more
    1. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      The classic case of the AGW believers is the AYCC. I have not yet met any who has a science degree, but each can recite a script with passion, and an endless appeal to "the science".
      Further, they cannot cope with any questions as they cannot go outside their script.

      report
  15. Philip Dowling

    IT teacher

    "The science tells us that greenhouse gas emissions have “forced” the changes that are taking place"
    Whenever I hear or read someone begin with "the science tells us ....", I know that the person is rather ignorant of science and its methods. On the other hand if someone says "the current state of scientific knowledge suggests .." or "the current scientific consensus is ...", then I know that what follows may be worth reading.
    The above article certainly has a large sample. For that it is to be…

    Read more
  16. Mark Harrigan

    PhD Physicist

    I found this article informative and interesting, especially in relation to the current polls.

    However I think any sensible discussion first requires an examination of, and hence discrimination in thinking and conclusions, the different types of belief.

    I'll offer three

    There is Faith - which is belief without evidence. Most of accept that this is the only valid way to "know God" and that religious belief depends on faith. Indeed there is a strong epistemological argument that this only…

    Read more
    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Yes Peter, will get back to you.

      In the meantime thank you very much for your reference to Lenny Smith.

      But I suggest you actually read one of his papers (co-authored with Stern)

      http://www.lorentzcenter.nl/lc/web/2011/460/presentations/Smith.pdf

      I do not think it supports your suggestion that "My view is that some major economic decisions are being promoted on the basis of shonky predictions by shonky models." In fact quite the opposite (even with your revision of the word shonky which…

      Read more
  17. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    Professor Reser.

    I am afraid you have got it wrong.

    Your surveys say: "but our survey findings are actually very reassuring......They are taking action, trying to make a difference, and in the process reframing how they see themselves, their environment, and climate change.".

    The BREE "Energy in Australia 2012" report says energy consumption has risen year on since records have begun. If the majority of Australians were really"taking action" as you claim, energy consumption would have…

    Read more
    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Mr Dean, given your desire to remind everyone else of the facts perhas you should attend to them - instead of your costant repitition trolling

      According to the Wolrd Bank Australias per capita energy concumption is as follows (kg of oil equivalent per capita)

      http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.PCAP.KG.OE

      Australia

      1992- 1996 - 5,929kg

      1997 - 2001 - 6,019kg

      2002- 2006 - 5,971kg

      2007 - 2011 - 5,643kg

      That data shows a decline - so you are incorrect. It wook me less…

      Read more
    2. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Dr Harrigan

      Who is deliberately mis-representing and dissembling?

      I stated that Australia's energy use had continued to rise, according to the Federal Government BREE Energy 2012 Energy Australia report. (Page 20, Figure 10 - Annual Growth in Australia's Energy Consumption"

      You have countered by quoting the falling 'per capita' energy use. Unfortunately Doctor, Australia's population has risen sharply during that time, resulting in, and I will repeat, A CONTINUED RISE IN TOTAL AUSTRALIAN ENERGY USE.

      You were saying.

      Gerard Dean

      report
    3. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Mr Dean - are you seriously arguing that per capita figure is NOT the relevant one to use when dealing with your argument "If the majority of Australians were really"taking action" as you claim, energy consumption would have fallen. It hasn't."

      If so, you would appear to be innumerate

      report
    4. Joseph Reser

      Adjunct Professor, School of Psychology at Griffith University

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      It is not possible to reply to all of the discussion following my Friday article on The Conversation, but I would like to address that of Gerad Dean, as clearly there are some misunderstandings here nor does it appear that the actual research report was examined.
      Our research team has made it a matter of principle to include all of our survey questions and items in the Report along with specific findings, to explain where the items have come from, to make reference to classic issues in item/question…

      Read more
    5. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Joseph Reser

      Have I missed something but are the questions answers and context been published? I am an atheist but if I was asked If I believed in the Catholic Church I would have to say yes because it exists. If I was asked if I believe in a god I would say no. Obviously mankind must have some influence on climate so if asked that I would say yes although I am a climate change atheist, nor denier nor skeptic.

      report
    6. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to John Coochey

      Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. The word cannot be meaningfully applied to Climate Change or AGW.

      There being no (empirical) evidence for the existence of a Deity, atheism is rational (although this is not proof it is true). Most people accept that beleif in a deity must be based on faith (belief without evidence). The apparent conflict is resolved by considering…

      Read more
    7. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      You miss my point but that is only to be expected. Had I taken the survey I could well have been classed as a true believer. For example if you asked me if I believed in UFO's I would have to say yes. Because thing fly through the air which are not at that time identified. (Unidentified Flying Objects) If on the other hand I was asked if we had been visited by aliens I would say no. The issue here is not Climategate, Amazon Gate Himalaya Gate or any other blunder by believers and by the way no one…

      Read more
    8. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      It is always useful Mark to be literate as well as numerate.
      I would draw your attention to what the figures you quote actually are.
      "Energy use refers to use of primary energy before transformation to other end-use fuels, which is equal to indigenous production plus imports and stock changes, minus exports and fuels supplied to ships and aircraft engaged in international transport."
      Thus this figure includes industrial use, including manufacturing. During this period Australia's industrial base…

      Read more
    9. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      No Phillip, not nit picking. Just in error. During the priod mentioned Australias GDP has continued to grow - quite substantially in fact.

      So energy usage per capita and per unit of GDP has dropped. Mr Dean made a claim that is not supported by the facts. Plain and simple. Here is another illustration - showing electricty usage per capita has levelled off 9alas figures past 2009 do not appear to be available) - which would be purely domestic

      http://www.google.com.au/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=eg_use_elec_kh_pc&idim=country:AUS&dl=en&hl=en&q=australian+electricity+usage

      Read more
    10. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to John Coochey

      If I missed your point it was because it was either poorly expressed or illogical. The question is fiarly simple.

      Do accept that AGW is real and a problem, which is the concensus conclusion of the science. Yes or No?

      If No, on what credibile and substantiated evidentiary basis do you reject it?

      Most people would understand the question quite well. The atherism point is silly and irrelevant

      report
    11. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      No the per capita figure is not the relevant figure as I understand our Kyoto commitments are not expressed in per capita terms.

      Moreover I think you will find that the actual decline is not due to savings or efficiencies. For example 2007-2011 contains the GFC when mining contracted for a period. Also general decline of manufacturing - particularly a smelter recently and also an oil refinery will certainly bring down our fuel consumption - but only by removing these emissions offshore. ON the other hand employment in services, IT, education and health - all low emitters - continued to grow.

      Worked out what is driving that correlation between sunspots and temperatures yet?

      report
    12. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      LOl Correlation is not causation. But of course you would choose to offer a furphy. Perhaps you fail to understand the basic physics of climate?

      Your comment is also erroneous. Mr Dean was NOT commenting about Kyoto or anything else. He was asserting that Australians, as indivduals, were not reducing their emissions. That is falsified by the data I have presented. Perhaps you also need to become more literate and numerate, not to mention developing a basic understanding of the science

      report
    13. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      1. Where did I say correlation is not causation? It seems the brilliant mind of Dr Harrigan is the one who finds it hard to explain. Let me unpack a simple example you should get your head around: there is a correlation between ice cream sales and people drowning, but this does not mean that eating ice cream cause you to drown. No, hot weather cause people to eat ice cream and also causes people to go swimming with an increased risk of drowning. Hot weather drives the correlation between eating…

      Read more
    14. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerard, it is possible for the majority of Australians to be decreasing their fossil fuel use, and for Australian fossil fuel use to be increasing.

      1. Population increase.
      2. A few large industrial users.

      report
    15. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Incidentally, o literate and numerate one, you have misread the table.

      The data values should be:
      2007 - 5,929kg

      2008 - 6,019kg

      2009 - 5,971kg

      2010 - 5,643kg

      It would seem there has only been a single year significant drop 2009-2010 for reasons that may have very little to do with individual.
      For someone with such advanced literate and numerate skills as yourself, I imagine reading something so mundane as a table would be easy to get wrong.

      report
    16. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Thanks Sean, you are quite right. Your figures are the correct interpretation of the table. My mistake

      (See, it's easy to admit an error if you're honest).

      They still show a per capita reduction though. And along with the other figures I have quoted (electricity per capita and emissions per capita) do not support Mr Deans use of an abolute figure to try and claim that individuals are not reducing their emissions. Thats 3 independent lines of evidence (not all across the time frame of the table abive by the way)

      Oh, and to answer your question about sunpots - everyone knows it's those republican senators of course :)

      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/fun-with-correlations/

      Which bit do you have trouble understanding?

      report
    17. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      If you are saying there is no correlation between sunspots and temperature on earth - why not just say so?

      The statement correlation is not causation is not concept you were after - for example there is a strong and positive correlation between gum disease and cardiac disease but the exact the mechanistic links between the two conditions are a matter of much speculation. No one thinks the correlation is purely coincidental or pure random chance - the correlation is definitely statistically significant…

      Read more
    18. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      causal explanation not casual explanation

      report
    19. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Sean, amidst all this bluster from you I'm really not sure what point you are trying to make?

      AGW does not depende on correlation but on causal arguments from physics.

      In relation to Mr Deans orginal post I think it is fairly clear that he cannot claim the data he presented in relation to (total) energy consumption in Australia shows that people are not taking action.

      report
    20. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Joseph Reser

      Professor Reser

      Firstly, thank you for taking the time to reply to my contention in detail. Although I may not agree with every thing you say, I will bow to your knowledge the nature of your study.

      Perhaps the word 'hypocrite' was too powerful, however I still think that there is an issue with us humans. which is turning the 'angst' into 'action'.

      On another note, you must be pleased with the amount of comments your article has generated. It appears you have drawn out all of the usual suspects (including myself).

      Thank you

      Gerard Dean

      report
  18. Berthold Klein

    Civil-Environmental engineer

    I have four questions for the intellects on this web-site.
    1. Define "climate".
    2. What is "climate change"?- be very specific.
    3. How many different climates are there in the world?
    4. Are they all changing?

    report
    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      Mr K,

      Why should anyone be bothered answering your questions? Your mind is closed. You already know everything about all of this - better than everyone, better than anyone. Nothing anyone says will ever change your mind. No one can change your mind. You cannot change your mind.

      You can answer your own questions, I'm sure.

      report
  19. Berthold Klein

    Civil-Environmental engineer

    “”Peter Ormonde commented:

    "Mr K, Why should anyone be bothered answering your questions? Your mind is closed. You already know everything about all of this - better than everyone, better than anyone. Nothing anyone says will ever change your mind. No one can change your mind. You cannot change your mind. You can answer your own questions, I'm sure."”

    Obviously Peter Ormonde is not intelligent enough to answer the questions and does not understand the importance of being able to define the…

    Read more
    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      Problem: excessive recycling of geosequestered carbon to the climate system.

      Solution: starts with stopping exacerbation of the Problem.

      report
  20. Comment removed by moderator.

  21. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    This articles just demonstrates once again what a valuable resource The Conversation is.

    From this article I have learned that prior to the advent of climate change Australia was a blessed continent where bushfires, drought and rather alarming clouds were unknown.

    report
  22. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Amazing how many words have been wasted on "belief" in something as important as survival of much of earth's life -- not just us, though we sure head the list of self-involved species.

    Is it a matter of "belief" that seas are now 8" higher than in 1880?

    Is it a matter of "belief" that about half the sea rise is due to warmer water's natural expansion?

    Is it a matter for "belief" that the carbon isotopes in oceanic & atmospheric could only have got there by us burning ancient carbon compounds…

    Read more