Times’ climate change poll contains good news and bad

Times poll showed that 41% of voters think that “climate change is happening & ... largely man made.” But the public is more positive on green policy.

On Saturday, The Times splashed on a Populus poll showing that only 41 per cent of voters think that “climate change is happening and is now established as largely man made.” But the headline hid more positive reactions to various green policy measures.

Without wishing to downplay The Times’ worrying top line finding, as interesting were the poll results on green taxes and regulations. In particular:

  • 57 per cent would support “new taxes on air travel with the aim of reducing the number of flights people take.”
  • 68 per cent would support “much higher taxes on cars that use a lot of petrol and emit a lot of carbon dioxide.”
  • 87 per cent support “New building regulations for all new houses to meet highest standards of insulation and make more use of renewable energy such as solar power, even if it increases costs.”
  • 69 per cent support “Setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions making companies pay for emissions, even if it results in higher prices for manufactured goods and energy.”

    The Times manages to interpret this data as a sign that “voters … will resist new green taxes.”

    The editorial laments “a failure of political communication” and notes how “none of the main parties has yet succeeded in making this issue its own” and ends with this brilliant line:

    “Lord Rees (President of the Royal Society) has reminded us that we now live in a global village and it is, he pointed out, probably inevitable that there will be some global village idiots.”

    His comments only underline the point, noted by Grist that, “Public opinion on matters of science is of great interest for a great many reasons, but it is a poor guide for public policy.”

    According to the paper’s poll, Conservative voters are more dubious than Labour and Lib Dem supporters. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has ever taken a peep at the Conservative blogosphere.

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    9 Responses to “Times’ climate change poll contains good news and bad”

    1. Michael Haddon

      RT @leftfootfwd: Times’ climate change poll contains good news and bad http://bit.ly/365Nxv

    2. Anon E Mouse

      Just wondered if anyone else caught John Humphrys this morning on the Today program challenging the woman from the Climate Change lobby on her science (or actual lack of it as it happens) regarding Copenhagen.

      Nice to see open and honest debate about this matter for a change instead of having this pseudo-science of speculation rammed down the (skeptical) publics throat.

      I’m sure as progressives we can all agree on the importance of debate and freedom of speech and expression.

      (Bet they still hold that conference however so they can all get together and pat each other on backs and increase the carbon footprint while they are at it).

    3. Claire Spencer

      These debates need to be had, but I think the media does a lot of harm by treating all experts as equal. Ben Goldacre made an excellent point on it re: Darwin – you might get 1 creationist scientist to 1000 scientists who accept the theory of evolution – but in the interests of balance, it looks like 50/50 to the audience. That is hardly an accurate portrayal of scientific opinion. The same is true of climate change, although I grant that the science is less certain, and less predictable in this case. Nonetheless, I don’t think it is being shoved down people’s throats – and if it is, it is not being done correctly. And that is important – neither side should seek to misrepresent the situation.

    4. Anon E Mouse

      Claire – the problem is for myself I simply don’t believe it is all down to CO2 humans produce. I agree the CO2 that is affecting the climate on the planet – it contributes to the top layer of our atmosphere – the ozone layer but the climate change model doesn’t even include methane or O3. How unscientific is that?

      Same with the scientist the other day – the head of carbon studies at Munich University I think – who stated CO2 absorption was higher than predicted and his basis was on actual ice cores and other “provable” data yet he is completely ignored by people with an agenda based on (biased) speculation.

      Stop producing CO2 and other pollution because it’s cleaner, not because of some unproven mumbo jumbo.

    5. TPA more “out of touch” than the Archbishop | Left Foot Forward

      […] as Left Foot Forward reported yesterday, there is clear poll evidence showing support for higher green taxes. • 57 per cent […]

    6. Claire Spencer

      I don’t think there is a single climate change model, to be honest with you – certainly, methane was often overlooked until relatively recently – but there are numerous models that do take it into account, and I know that climate scientists keep an eye on atmospheric levels of the gas. But ultimately, it is pushed into second place by carbon. I’ve said this on here before, but climate science is unpredictable – so the more data collected, the more accurate the picture will be. It takes more than one result to reshape the picture – although obviously, I’d still like to read what you are alluding to. Was that the study which said that forests took in more C02 than previously thought?

      I think in terms of getting individuals to engage with the issue of climate change, it just makes sense to talk in terms of carbon – if nothing else, it’s easier. If people genuinely live more sustainably, the other GHGs will, at least to some extent, also be reduced. However, I do agree with you that we don’t need to make the point using climate change alone, we should also be thinking seriously about the fact we are running out of oil – something that we can all agree and act on.

    7. Claire Spencer

      I can’t believe you made me look at the Daily Mail *washes eyes*… 😉 …but yes, I had heard of this, and it is interesting. But it does not support the stance that climate change is not man made – Dr Knorr is pretty clear on that: http://jonesthenews.wordpress.com/2009/11/10/bristol-research-does-not-support-climate-change-denial/

    8. Anon E Mouse

      Claire – I do think we should reduce CO2, I just don’t like all this panic merchant doom sayer stuff.

      To hear our Prime Minister making outlandish claims about Copenhagen saying “We only have 56 days to save the planet” is just pathetic.

      I did hear a scientist on 5 Live last night who was explaining how the sun (that pole flipping thing) was affecting the climate re: solar radiation so perhaps the climate change brigade are at least now trying to include that data as well which is a good thing.

      I don’t read the Mail myself but remember as Britain’s second biggest daily newspaper a lot of people agree with it’s views on things, including the reasons for climate change.

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