09 June 2010

The Battle for Public Opinion has Been Over


In an op-ed in the New York Times today Jon Krosnick of Stadford University writes:

In our survey, which was financed by a grant to Stanford from the National Science Foundation, 1,000 randomly selected American adults were interviewed by phone between June 1 and Monday. When respondents were asked if they thought that the earth’s temperature probably had been heating up over the last 100 years, 74 percent answered affirmatively. And 75 percent of respondents said that human behavior was substantially responsible for any warming that has occurred.

For many issues, any such consensus about the existence of a problem quickly falls apart when the conversation turns to carrying out specific solutions that will be costly. But not so here.

Fully 86 percent of our respondents said they wanted the federal government to limit the amount of air pollution that businesses emit, and 76 percent favored government limiting business’s emissions of greenhouse gases in particular. Not a majority of 55 or 60 percent — but 76 percent.

Large majorities opposed taxes on electricity (78 percent) and gasoline (72 percent) to reduce consumption. But 84 percent favored the federal government offering tax breaks to encourage utilities to make more electricity from water, wind and solar power.

And huge majorities favored government requiring, or offering tax breaks to encourage, each of the following: manufacturing cars that use less gasoline (81 percent); manufacturing appliances that use less electricity (80 percent); and building homes and office buildings that require less energy to heat and cool (80 percent).

Thus, there is plenty of agreement about what people do and do not want government to do.

As I have said for many years, and documented in The Climate Fix, the battle for public opinion on climate change has been won by those who argue that there is a profound human influence on climate and action is warranted. This has been the message of opinion polls for as long as 20 years.

The effort to cleanse the world of climate skeptics that occupies the attention of so many climate bloggers is simply a waste of effort, if the goal is to advance climate policies. The public support is there -- and has been for many years. The battle over climate science is so over that those wanting to continue this fight have to try to label people with whom they disagree with "climate skeptics" or "climate deniers" just to pick a fight (trust me, I've seen this happen;-).

I fully expect that the blogospheric wars over climate change science to continue ad nausem, because people enjoy it and it allows people (on various sides) to assert the authority of science in a political debate. But by now it should be clear, such debates are just entertainment or sport, they are not related to public opinion or political action.

Sorry for those who wish things were otherwise, but the science debate is over. Time to raise the white flag.

58 comments:

  1. "76 percent favored government limiting business’s emissions of greenhouse gases in particular."

    yet

    "Large majorities opposed taxes on electricity (78 percent) and gasoline (72 percent)"

    It'll be interesting to see what happens when people figure out that likely the only way and certainly the legislatively proposed way for government to *actively limit* (as opposed to *encourage reduction of*) business's emissions is through either a direct tax on carbon (including electricity production or the use of it) or something like a cap & trade system that ends up being fairly equivalent to a tax, as far as the public's concerned when it comes to paying for goods and energy?

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  2. If you'd surveyed me with those first questions, I would have answered two times in the affirmative. It "probably" has heated, and it "probably" is human-induced.

    Would the survey have asked me if the heating is catastrophic in nature? Run-away heating? Dangerous heating? Would the survey have asked me if I think the earth's albedo will "probably" compensate naturally? Would the survey have asked me if I think that CO2 mitigation policies could redress any "probable" heating?

    Do I think air pollution control is a duty of the federal government? Sure, why not? I remember driving past the Sheffield steel foundries in the 70s.. geez, what a stench. Clean air's good, yanno. What were we talking about?

    Do I prefer tax breaks to tax levies, hell yeah. If you'll cut me some extra cash slack for driving a 4 cylinder instead of a 6 cylinder, I'll go for that. Can I have extra off for driving my 50mpg diesel? No?

    Only an idiot, in this financial climate, would oppose tax breaks for purchasing energy efficient appliances or vehicles. Duh.

    I've plenty of experience of phone surveys - I worked my summers cold calling for a customer service/market research company all the way through college so I know just as well as you do, Roger, that a phone survey like this not only WILL deliver the desired result, its only purpose of existence IS TO deliver EXACTLY that.

    No sale, Roger.

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  3. -2-Simon

    You are absolutely correct that any single survey, especially individual questions, are subject to critique. However, many surveys over many years present a consistent message. It is not this survey alone that I emphasize, but this survey in context.

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  4. Roger, my point is that advocacy surveys are written to coax specific results - be it customer satisfaction surveys for companies, for the consumption of shareholders or whatever. Pose a hundred surveys in the same vein and you're guaranteed an averagely loaded bias, and nothing more than that. Of course the message is the same, it's the same questions for the same purpose. :o/

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  5. -4-Simon

    I am happy to grant your point. I think that you have a hard case to show that _every_ survey since 1990, from a wide range of groups, is an "advocacy survey". My view is that the diversity of polls and diversity of questions leads to a pretty robust result.

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  6. Roger,

    The only survey questionss that matter are ones that asked the question:

    1) Would you be willing to pay $100/month to reduce GHG emissions?

    2) Would you be willing to pay that amount if there is a good chance that spending the money will have no measureable effect on climate?

    I am willing to bet that the answer to both questions would be an overwhelming no. So I think you are wrong to claim that there is real public support for carbon control policies. That is why the alarmists keep trying scare people and denounce sceptics.

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  7. There is a point to the skeptics vs alarmists arguments.

    Many skeptics say that AGW is happening and is caused by C02. However the rise in temperature in C20 also had a natural component to it.

    On the question of whether the temperature is unprecedented in 2000 years, which is critical for estimating damage and on the question of what the temperature rise in C21 and the effects of that rise many, many people would become 'teh evil deniers'.

    It's also worth noting that internationally results are similar. In Australia most people say that AGW is happening. However, roughly only 1/3 of people are prepared to pay more than $10 a week to do anything about it.

    These results have been highlighted for years by Andrew Norton:

    http://andrewnorton.info/2010/05/31/climate-change-hypocrites-make-ets-backdown-sensible-politics/#more-4056

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  8. As the current administration is finding out, overwhelming public opinion in your favor is useless if it is only an inch deep. As I see it, you have about 25% saying no because they actually know enough to have formed an opinion in the negative, about the same percentage saying aye for the same reason, and 50% saying what they think the appropriate answer is. Ask the general public about evolution, and what percentage has it's doubts? Ask them if they think the Higgs particle will be found, or if it's worth finding, or if they want to donate a dollar to find it, and what sort of result would you expect?

    Public opinion surveys have nothing to do with scientific debates, period, let alone whether or not one has been won.

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  9. -8-Jeff

    You write: "Public opinion surveys have nothing to do with scientific debates, period, let alone whether or not one has been won."

    Perhaps this is the case. However, as the title of this post might suggest, public opinion surveys are somewhat relevant to debates about public opinion, and that is what this post is about.

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  10. I think the survey only says one thing.

    People are only prepared to pay a modest cost for 'climate change'.

    As soon as it is clear they will be paying a substantially higher cost then support evaporates.


    Substantially higher costs is interpreted differently depending on how many heating/cooling degree days one has.

    Folks in California have low heating and cooling degree days. Even though they pay the highest rates in the country for electricity, their actual electric bills are comparatively modest.

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  11. Shouldn't that be Abba singing 'Waterloo'?

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  12. Roger (#5), with respect, you're asserting that a polling lineage of a consistent message exists which you've, mentally or literally, graphed and the result of which confirms a long-held belief of yours. Accordingly I must be allowed to assume that these same questions have been asked, in this way, in preceding polls. You are relating this poll to its lineage of polls, after all, and asserting that a "consistent message" signal can be derived from the collection.

    The questions in this poll are loaded to serve up a particular result. I don't think this is really disputed. In conceding your assertion of lineage, though, I am freed to assume that the lineage of polls is similarly "dirty". Unless, of course, we can find a way to show that this poll is the only "dirty" poll while maintaining that the others were somehow "clean"?

    Is there perhaps a dirty/clean poll quality scale that we can score the previous polls by, or do we just have to assume that they were "clean" and, unlike this poll, would not have coaxed a false positive from an ardent climate sceptic like me?

    I feel like I'm always arguing with you, Roger. I'm sad about that. I just can't find a way to eke out a trustworthy signal from a poll conducted in this fashion, and I just can't find any way to support your claim of an AGW-positive victory from its result, nor any other similarly posed set of poll questions in previous surveys. Sorry! :o)

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  13. The most significant figure in British terms is that there hasn't been a survey published since it was revealed that only 26% of participants thought climate change was "established as largely manmade". That was four months ago.

    A proposal has been put to the BBC to release the names of those individuals to allow scientists to hunt for the gullibility gene. The BBC have refused saying they do not wish to expose society's most intellectually vulnerable people to exploitation.


    "In our survey, which was financed by a grant to Stanford from the National Science Foundation"

    Says it all for me. Lies, damned lies and survey data.


    When the distinguished professor referred to the same BBC survey I did, he 'lied'. Just like thousands of his academic colleagues have done during the climate debate. He lied in what he thinks is a clever way. Just like his climate science friends, he cherry picked the information. In my view, that is lying.

    This is what he said

    "A BBC headline blared, “Climate Skepticism on the Rise,” when it should have proclaimed that a huge majority of Britons still share common ground with one another and with Americans on this issue. "

    The message for me is that academics cannot be trusted, but thankfully aren't smart enough to fool anyone. In Britain, they have blotted their little jotters for a generation.

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  14. Roger (#9)

    You write: "public opinion surveys are somewhat relevant to debates about public opinion"

    But Roger, only public opinion surveys that actually sample genuine public opinion are relevant to anything. A broken thermometer is useless at gauging temperature, but importantly it is significantly worse than useless when its results are assumed to be correct.

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  15. And about 99.8% surveyed never heard of the Hartwell solution and 99.9% wouldn't even consider looking at your new book.

    Give it up, Roger and wave the white flag - you too are irrelevant to the public. Stick to soccer from now on and quit wasting everyones' time on climate issues, please. ;-)

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  16. "When respondents were asked if they thought that the earth’s temperature probably had been heating up over the last 100 years, 74 percent answered affirmatively. And 75 percent of respondents said that human behavior was substantially responsible for any warming that has occurred."

    What the heck does that mean? Does it mean that 75% of all respondents believe human behavior is causing warming, but only 74% actually believe there is any warming, or does it mean 75% of the 74% believe there is warming and it's caused by human activity?

    If the latter, which frankly, is the only way it would make sense (why would any valid poll conclude that more people believe x is caused by y than believe x is actually occuring?), that means a bare 55% (0.74 x 0.75) believe there is warming caused by human activities. That would seem to put the result back in the "tenuous majority" category.

    And of course, that still leaves open the "how much?" and "does it matter?" questions.

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  17. And one more thing regarding the op-ed and poll results---strong opposition to tax increases and strong support for tax breaks. Yeah, count me in! Glad all those NSF funds went to good use. Good to validate those important points with a scientific study.

    Somehow reminds me of this:

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=2486

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  18. This makes sense to me, although I agree this particular poll exaggerates the level of agreement. People would like to see a reduction in CO2 emissions.

    Now we just need someone to offer a sensible plan for how to do that. Perhaps that is in your new book?

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  19. My reading of the pole is people are for taking action as long as it is not directing their valets. I suppose, the support to regulate industries remain strong until those industries will start to price in those regulations to their services to customers

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  20. Dear Roger,

    I do not agree with,

    "I fully expect that the blogospheric wars over climate change science to continue ad nausem, because people enjoy it and it allows people (on various sides) to assert the authority of science in a political debate. But by now it should be clear, such debates are just entertainment or sport, they are not related to public opinion or political action.

    Sorry for those who wish things were otherwise, but the science debate is over. Time to raise the white flag."

    Firstly, I am an educated lay person who has followed the climate change debate very closely, and a regular reader of your blog.

    I do not understand at all how this statement can be reconciled with

    (1) the fact that public opinion in the developed world (e.g. Germany, the UK, Australia) has recently and hugely swung (e.g. by 20%) towards skepticism (even if it doesn't say so in this latest US poll).

    (2) the fact that very few of my educated friends take it seriously any longer -- even those who once believed in it.

    (3) your own, frequently stated views.

    (4) the views of your father (although, granted, there is no reason for you an Pielke Sr. to always agree).

    Your own, frequently stated views, the "honest broker" view, and forgive me as I hurriedly paraphrase, is that we shouldn't play the public as fools, pretend there is certainty where there isn't, and make a case for decarbonisation of the world's economy based on the evils of CO2 emissions, when the same case could be made in other ways that don't rely crucially on science that cannot be proved.

    Now you say, raise the white flag, the science is settled, the debate is over, bring back Al Gore and vote Green all of you. Am I misreading?

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  21. Dear Roger,

    With the greatest respect, you are basing your conclusion on a survey of 1,000 people randomly selected people (roughly 1/300,000 (0.00033'%) of the population of one country, on their opinion, in response to what would have been - by necessity - carefully phrased questions. All of this reported as an op-ed in the NYT.

    To quote, "the earth’s temperature probably had been heating up over the last 100 years", and that "human behavior was substantially responsible". "Probably" and "substantially". Vague, inconclusive, and (most likely, although we're unlikely to know ;) in response to the multiple-choice options given over the 'phone by the canvassers.

    This is followed by your statement, "but the science debate is over". Demonstrably not. The public opinion debate is probably over, within the confines of 1,000 randomly selected people faced with a logical dilemma. The science debate is not, nor can it ever be (except within post-normal science).

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  22. (On re-reading my #19, I see I went too far in the last sentence (a bit of a habit of mine!) and I shouldn't have said that, and recognise that you're not asking anyone to vote Green or "bring back Al Gore" -- that was an, er, emotional first impression. Please accept my apologies and no disrespect intended.)

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  23. Roger, this sort of opinion polling is an astonishingly poor guide to what people actually are willing to do. A good test is to include two mutually contradictory questions, and count the vast number of people who support both.

    A fine UK example was a recent poll on voting reform which noted that 78% of the population wanted a "system that reflects more accurately the proportion of votes cast for each party", while 72% of the same population thought that "an outright win is much more desirable than a hung parliament". People will say almost anything when pushed by pollsters.

    An interesting observation about UK political polling is that the question "who do you think is going to win?" is more reliable at predicting winners than "who are you going to vote for?", and the spread-betting markets are significantly more reliable than either. What do the markets currently predict for future CO2 emissions?

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  24. Harrywr2 has it right.

    Polling data tells you something about public opinion. They do not provide useful information about evaluating scientific claims, but they do say something about how such claims are reflected in public opinion. They also do not tell us how people will respond in the face of future, undefined political choices. Of course, these claims seem self-evident.

    But make no mistake, public opinion in the US and more broadly, has been for decades in the direction of strongly believing that humans influence the climate and in support of taking action. These are just factual statements about what the polls say. The battle for public opinion is -- and has been -- over.

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  25. If what Harrywr2 says is right, both the article and any conclusions drawn from it are completely dishonest. It simply isn't good enough to use the political/academic trick of finding a form of words that supports your point of view, while not being outright mendacity.

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  26. -25-eric144

    As you know, and typically practice, that sort of tone is not appropriate here. If you disagree, then just say why and support your claims. Thanks!

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  27. This is a nonsense poll. It asks questions knowing they will be answered in the affirmative.

    Every other poll who have asked people how would they rate Global Warming in comparison with other issues, including environmental matters, have all rated concerns over Global Warming as being last in their minds.

    Here is my own poll.

    Q1 Do you think poverty if bad? YES/NO

    Q2 Do you think human greed is to blame? YES/NO

    Q3 Do you think government should do something to reduce the level of poverty? YES/NO

    I would get better numbers than the Stanford poll.

    Think on that!

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  28. "As I have said for many years, and documented in The Climate Fix, the battle for public opinion on climate change has been won by those who argue that there is a profound human influence on climate and action is warranted. This has been the message of opinion polls for as long as 20 years" - seems like a somewhat peculiar position to maintain in mid-2010!(?) Cf.:
    "Dealing with global warming ranks at the bottom of the public’s list of priorities; just 28% consider this a top priority, the lowest measure for any issue tested in the survey. Since 2007, when the item was first included on the priorities list, dealing with global warming has consistently ranked at or near the bottom. Even so, the percentage that now says addressing global warming should be a top priority has fallen 10 points from 2007, when 38% considered it a top priority. Such a low ranking is driven in part by indifference among Republicans: just 11% consider global warming a top priority, compared with 43% of Democrats and 25% of independents." - source:

    http://people-press.org/report/584/policy-priorities-2010

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  29. For me, this just shows that public opinion is largely in favor of "magical solutions."

    There's a logic failure in the article where he states: "For many issues, any such consensus about the existence of a problem quickly falls apart when the conversation turns to carrying out specific solutions that will be costly. But not so here." Then he lists broad opposition to costly solutions like energy taxes and broad support of non-costly solutions like tax breaks.

    Then he states: "Only 18 percent of respondents said they thought that policies to reduce global warming would increase unemployment and only 20 percent said they thought such initiatives would hurt the nation’s economy."

    Well, the policies most likely to be in people's minds at that point are the tax-breaks, etc. that they just gave positive responses to. So, of course those policies wouldn't hurt the economy.

    If the policy changes we are talking about are only efficiency incentives and tax breaks, count me in!

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  30. Last sentence of the op-ed: "A vote to eliminate greenhouse gas regulation is likely to be perceived by the nation as a vote for industry, and against the will of the people."

    Will people ever see through this refrain? The cost of ghg regulation will be born by the people, industry is just the middle man. No matter how much we tax their emissions, they'll still find money to line the politicians' pockets.

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  31. I don't question the overall proposition that a majority has a fairly weakly held belief in AGW. I do think this particular survey was rather a disgrace -- not because it's designed to produce a particular result, most polls are, but because it was NSF funded. I still maintain the quaint old-fashioned conviction that NSF funds should not be used to promote a particular policy position.

    The weaselry in this poll is the copious use of the word 'probably'. Scientifically and mathematically literate posters here probably (heh heh) most of the time use the word carefully and accurately. In popular speech, it's just a weakening modifier. If you multiply 'think' (as opposed to believe, are convinced...) by 'probably', you end up with 'possibly', and most people will concede 'possibly' on most issues.

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  32. I have to chime in with the chorus.

    A poll in which 'the people' support AGW mitigation coupled with an unwillingness to increase taxes (and thus decrease energy usage) is worthless.

    It is literally saying: I want to have my cake and eat it too.

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  33. "Fully 86 percent of our respondents said they wanted the federal government to limit the amount of air pollution that businesses emit, and 76 percent favored government limiting business’s emissions of greenhouse gases in particular. Not a majority of 55 or 60 percent — but 76 percent."

    Human beings lie to themselves constantly and then accept their own lies as the truth. Here for example the humans clearly deny their personal causality for the problem that they say is man made. This is demonstrated by their solution that someone else needs to do something or that someone else needs to get punished. They are like children who do not accept that they are the problem, and then they lie to themselves by blaming others for the problem.

    For example, in a recent interview a reporter asked Ted Turner what life changing actions he took when he accepted AGW. His response was that he turned off more lights now (gee Ted what about the private jets or all that electricity CNN uses, multiple houses, stc) LOL. So we have an intelligent man who denies his huge personal contribution to a problem but then wants the government or someone else to do something, and then lies to himself by believing he is doing his part to sustain the planet by turning off his lights.

    You will find most people in this survey are pretty much the same as Ted Turner and share the same weak minded non-logic of lying to themselves that they are not responsible and that the solution is for someone else to do something about.

    The survey is useless because it doesn't measure the strength of the respondents convictions IMO. Roger, what would be more enlightening in the future is to measure to what extent the belief in AGW is rooted in someone by measuring their willingness to sacrifice personally for their belief in AGW. Otherwise surveys like this are nothing but flotsam that only measures someones ability to lie to themselves by accepting what is popular without a true commitment to self-examination and understanding of personal contribution to the problem. How many of those surveyed put up solar panels or cut energy use? If they say they believe in AGW and only "turn off lights" it is just a survey of the opinions of liars and/or self-deluded people and what they think should be done about AGW, which is not a accurate basis for determining policy.

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  34. Roger,

    Why do you ignore all of the commenters you point out that public support for 'action' dissappears as soon as they are asked to make personal sacrifices even if it is as little as $10/month?

    This fact is extremely important to policy discussion and turns your argument into one of those "true but false" claims that infest the the climate discussion.

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  35. "Sorry for those who wish things were otherwise, but the science debate is over. Time to raise the white flag."

    Oh, so you are now THE arbiter of science. Wow! Can you list 10 key articles that support this conclusion? Are Lindzen, Spencer, etc. just cranks?

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  36. There is a lot of empirical evidence that the scientific evidence pro and con IS important for the public opinion in the long run. You cannot deal (give explanations) with the public opinion (and hence with politics) unless you also make a review of the scientific debate. I suppose that a post-modernist view of climate change would simply be that everything is politics. But that is a much too simplified view. Science matters. And that is why smart people keep a close eye to the scientific debate.

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  37. Here are some facts from real "mainline" polls:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/10/when-you-dont-like-the-poll-numbers-make-up-your-own-poll/

    I have absolutely no faith in a "poll" conducted by folks with a terrible conflict of interest.

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  38. I believe that a large part of the reason that the heated debate continues is that a vocal core of enviros have decided that not only is the science settled regarding the problem, but the solution to the problem is also settled. And the only thing it can be is a globally-managed cap and trade system. To these folks the only true believers are the ones who buy into both the problem and the solution, everyone else is lumped into the same non-believer group as the folks who don't believe the science. This makes it seem like far more people dispute the science than really do.

    From this poll and others you can see that this is where the big disconnect with the American public lies. In general Americans buy into the problem, but they strongly oppose the proposed solution, so are declared to be unbelievers.

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  39. "Sorry for those who wish things were otherwise, but the science debate is over."

    The "science debate is over" because of *public opinion* results! That's pretty sloppy, Roger.

    I wonder if you'd make the same statement for something in which you had expertise...say, the effects of climate change on damage from hurricanes? Would you say, "the science debate is over" because 75% of the public thought that hurricane damages have dramatically increased because of climate change? Or would you instead point out the science did not support the public opinion?

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  40. "However, as the title of this post might suggest, public opinion surveys are somewhat relevant to debates about public opinion, and that is what this post is about."

    If the post is about public opinion, it should not conclude with the statement, "Sorry for those who wish things were otherwise, but the science debate is over. Time to raise the white flag."

    It should instead conclude with something like, "Sorry for those who wish things were otherwise, but the public opinion on climate change is settled. Time to raise the white flag."

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  41. I believe a reason for the ongoing debate is that a core set of vocal enviros have decided that not only is the science related to the problem settled, but the solution to the problem is also settled, and that solution is a globally managed cap and trade system. According to this group true believers must buy into both the problem and solution, and everyone else is lumped into a large group of unbelievers. As a result the number of people cast an unbelievers is much larger than the set of people who don't believe that the earth is warming and humans have played a major role.

    This is where the big disconnect with the American public lies. As this poll and others show, Americans buy into the problem, but don't buy into the solution that keeps getting put on the table.

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  42. The battle for public opinion is -- and has been -- over.

    So why haven't the likes of Hansen and Romm been able to get their way? What am I missing?

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  43. eric144 said... 13

    "The most significant figure in British terms is that there hasn't been a survey published since it was revealed that only 26% of participants thought climate change was "established as largely manmade"."

    What would British Public Opinion be if they were being asked to support a solution similar to what Senator Lugar proposed yesterday?

    http://lugar.senate.gov/energy/legislation/pdf/PracticalEnergyPlan.pdf

    Of course our 'greens' here will complain it is too little, too late. But it is progress at a modest cost.

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  44. There is a lot of empirical evidence that the scientific evidence pro and con IS important for the public opinion in the long run. You cannot deal (give explanations) with the public opinion (and hence with politics) unless you also make a review of the scientific debate. I suppose that a post-modernist view of climate change would simply be that everything is politics. But that is a much too simplified view. Science matters. And that is why smart people keep a close eye to the scientific debate.

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  45. I’m sure Roger is correct to argue that the battle for public opinion on climate change has been won by those who argue that there is a profound human influence on climate and action is warranted. Whether he is correct to argue the science debate is over is a very different and arguable matter - perhaps a touch of hyperbole on Roger's part.

    And surely Raven is correct in post #6 in the questions that he proposes. Expressing an opinion on a subject costs you nothing. Ask intentional questions requiring a specific response is another thing. Are you willing to pay such and such extra amount on your electricity bill, trade in your 4 wheel drive for a VW Golf might be more suitable questions, though polls are less reliable for securing actions as against eliciting opinion.

    The matter that needs to be kept in perspective is that the fossil fuels are running out within say a hundred years, oil almost certainly less. Knowing the reserves, we know how much CO2 will be emitted. Further we know every last drop/volume/lump of recoverable reserves of oil, gas and coal will be mined. The only issue then is whether we are prepared to let the emerging economies have a fair crack at the remaining reserves. In the meantime we need those taxes the Hartwell paper proposes to develop new resources, though if anyone proposes another moronic windfarm anywhere close to where I live, I will fight it tooth and nail. The future is nuclear and maybe solar, or .... not windfarms!

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  46. From beards to moustaches to glabrous faces. From all men with hats to no man with a hat. Long dresses to miniskirts. Most of the cool cars of 20 years ago look positively funny, and 1970s hair-dos have been laughing matters ever since.

    All this to say that, if you don't like public opinion on a topic, just hang on: public opinion will change...

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  47. Harrwr2

    "What would British Public Opinion be if they were being asked to support a solution similar to what Senator Lugar proposed yesterday?"

    http://lugar.senate.gov/energy/legislation/pdf/PracticalEnergyPlan.pdf


    Without being dramatic, I have no idea because we no longer live in a representative democracy. No choice will be offered. We live in a two head party political monster controlled by forces (as her 'majesty' the Queen famously said), about which we know nothing. Sorry, we now know quite a lot about it, but it is off topic.


    I see Senator Graham has changed his opinion.

    Lindsey Graham Said What About Climate Change?

    Reporters asked Graham several times about why he was supporting Lugar's bill, when just a few months ago he had argued that the Senate shouldn't pass a "half-assed" bill that lacked hard restrictions on carbon emissions. Graham replied that he now doesn't think pricing carbon is that important. "The science about global warming has changed," he noted, offhandedly. "I think they've oversold this stuff, quite frankly. I think they've been alarmist and the science is in question," Graham told reporters. "The whole movement has taken a giant step backward."

    http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/06/graham-takes-climate-denial-plunge

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  48. Roger Pielke, Jr. -26

    You take Eric 144 to task. I would appreciate some guidance on your standards after you seem to have engaged in similar rhetoric attacking the integrity of the UV attorney general.

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  49. Bradley J. Fikes said... 42

    "So why haven't the likes of Hansen and Romm been able to get their way?"

    They have -
    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2005/05/washington-state-passes-progressive-renewable-energy-legislation-28478
    "This is the most important solar legislation ever introduced in any American state legislature."

    In 2005 Environmental groups presented the Washington State legislature with a 'magical energy solution' and the legislature gave it to them.

    Seattle has 240 overcast days a year, another 65 that are partly cloudy, and we have the most progressive solar legislation in the country.

    There is now a total of 2 megawatts of installed solar capacity in the greater Seattle area after 5 years of extremely generous incentives producing virtually no electricity. At the current rate of installation we should reach 'all solar' in maybe another 20,000 years.

    Environmental groups spent their 'political capital' on a 'magical solution'. When they recently asked our very liberal governor to close our coal fired electricity plant they were told politely to pound sand.

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  50. So I went to the trouble of digging up more details on the poll questions and answers. A more thorough summary is available here.

    http://woods.stanford.edu/docs/surveys/Global-Warming-Survey-Selected-Results-June2010.pdf

    One of the questions I commented on earlier was actually asked in this way:

    "Q14. (Assuming it’s happening) Do you think a rise in the world’s temperature is being (would be) caused mostly by things people do, mostly by natural causes, or about equally by things people do and by natural causes?"

    Note the "Assuming it's happening".

    It's even more interesting to look at the specific results (As to what's causing the "assumed" result"):

    What people do: 30%
    Natural causes: 25%
    Both equally: 45%

    So even based on the assumption that global warming is occuring, only 30% of the respondents think it's solely due to "what people do". Going back to my earlier math, it now seems that only 30% of the 74% that think the earth has "probably" warmed think it's due entirely to human activity. That's 22% of the total respondents!

    I challenge anyone to find support for this statement in the poll results:

    "And 75 percent of respondents said that human behavior was substantially responsible for any warming that has occurred." (emphasis added)

    Rather than a scientific poll, I'm afraid this is beginning to look like just another "framing" exercise.

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  51. Dear Roger,

    You have not responded to my comment above, which is your prerogative of course.

    I note in passing that today the skeptic, Benny Peiser, has reproduced your post in his CCNet mailing list, with no comment.

    I'll be more specific. I find this text,

    "...by now it should be clear, such debates are just entertainment or sport, they are not related to public opinion or political action. Sorry for those who wish things were otherwise, but the science debate is over. Time to raise the white flag"

    to be inconsistent with your earlier posting here:

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/05/incoherent-policy-narratives-and.html

    where you write that, perhaps, "[t]he public is smarter than they are often given credit for. It is possible that the public can at the same time support policies that lead to decarbonization of the economy while at the same time believing that climate science has been exaggerated."

    So when you say now that the science debate is over, and that the general public don't care about it, I disagree, and I feel you are trying to play for both sides here.

    Unless you are saying that the general public knows that the science is exaggerated, and doesn't care? That would be an odd position. Most who understand that the science has been exaggerated are angry about it, at least of those that I know.

    I am confused.

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  52. Sorry Roger, This is another one of your clunkers!

    Here's my analogy......

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaU5I_UQbXQ


    ps - Go Germany!

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  53. I see the Guardian is running a similar survey story. What matters to them is increasing page clicks and controversy achieves that. A deliberately provactive headline is particularly effective.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/11/confidence-climate-science-poll

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  54. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1285690/How-doubts-global-warming-rise-big-freeze-winter-emails-row.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

    Need I say more. Poll numbers for Global Warming are dropping.

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  55. Here is my problem with those that mistakenly believe they occupy the moral high ground. Not just in this subject area.


    How going green may make you mean

    Ethical consumers less likely to be kind and more likely to steal, study finds
    According to a study, when people feel they have been morally virtuous by saving the planet through their purchases of organic baby food, for example, it leads to the "licensing [of] selfish and morally questionable behaviour", otherwise known as "moral balancing" or "compensatory ethics".


    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/15/green-consumers-more-likely-steal


    As Pete Townsend wrote in the song linked below "The hypnotised never lie, do ya ? "

    Amazing

    Noel Gallagher & The Who - We Won't Get Fooled Again

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  56. This is another clever Pielke word special (see fraud vs fudge and cherry pie)

    In a precise way the argument is over - climate change does affect humanity, is happening (as climate always has and always will change) and we should take action to ameliorate any effect we might be having and of course adapt to that change.

    But as Steve McIntyre might say 'watch the pea' - that is not what the argument is about and Roger knows this.

    The argument is about how much warming/change there is and how what kind of action we should take.

    Roger is teasing - but it is fun!

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  57. Alex Harvey (#51): one could broadly agree with mainstream climate science and still think it's been exaggerated (in some aspects, by some people, under certain circumstances, etc etc).

    You're not the first one that would only settle for full doubt-free belief, but I keep getting amazed by such an approach.

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  58. Nigel Calder offers an historical perspective:

    http://calderup.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/tradecraft-of-propaganda/

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