2011-03-27 20:09:46Australian attitude to climate change
John Cook

This is a survey report by Aussie cognitive scientist Iain Walker. I've met him a few times at various climate panels, he's a really smart and interesting guy (he also said one key to making people interested in climate change was to make it cool like what SkS did with the iPhone app). He's just published survey results - some of these results have had an influence on how I've approached climate communication:


2011-03-28 12:07:37Cause and responsibility
James Wight


Interestingly, while a considerable portion of people considered climate change to be a natural fluctuation in Earth’s temperatures, as a group these people still viewed countries, governments and global organisations as at least partly responsible for causing climate change. This suggests a level of confusion, indecisiveness, and/or inconsistency amongst Australians about the root causes of climate change and how to respond to it.

That's the understatement of the century! If I’m reading Figure 8 correctly, respondents who think climate change is natural rate “big-polluting countries” as 4 on a 5-point scale of responsibility! What is going on in their heads?

2011-03-28 13:00:26Battle 1/2 won?
Glenn Tamblyn


Well, this has a silver lining. The 'its not happening' arguments don't carry much weight, at least in Oz. Here the message needs to be targetted towards attribution.

It would be interesting to see similar surveys from other countries, particularly the US.

2011-03-28 14:38:33Small sample size, but personal for me
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Commonest reactions I get (distilled for brevity's sake):

  1. It's not happening
  2. It's not us
  3. It's not bad
  4. It's too hard

Very few conversations are able to get past point #1 (refusal to believe it's real).  Most cut off the conversation & make an excuse to leave.  And typically avoid me after that.

2011-03-30 02:46:42comments
Dana Nuccitelli

On the first question (whether climate change is happening), I think Aussies have an advantage over Americans, a large segment of which (mainly Republicans, of course) deny that the climate is changing at all.  I'm pretty sure it's more than Australia's 17% denial. 

The 50-40% human vs. natural is pretty close to Americans though (most recently 52-43%).

About two-thirds of Aussies are worried about climate change, vs. half of Americans.

Interesting that those who think it's natural trust their friends and family almost as much as university scientists.  Doctors were way up on the list too.  I didn't realize you had to study climate science to get a medical license!

As for James' comment on Figure 8 (and 9), I think it just exposes the uncertainty in "skeptic" minds.  They believe climate change is natural, but they're really not sure, so they also say polluters are to blame.  I think it's a good sign actually.  They're confused, but willing to hold polluters responsible anyway.

Interesting that beliefs on the subject were almost exactly opposite for labour and liberal.  Very similar to democrat and republican.