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Climate change belief tied to economy

Last response: in News & Leisure
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March 21, 2012 12:46:49 PM

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A few years back, the US public's acceptance of conclusions reached by climate scientists took a dramatic drop. It's only now beginning to recover. Not a lot has changed about the science during that time, raising questions about what's driving the ups and downs in the polls. Studies have found correlations with the weather and a role for political leaders in driving these changes, but a new study suggests some of that is misplaced. Instead, its authors come to a conclusion we've heard before: it's the economy, stupid.

The authors use polling data from a variety of sources, which creates a bit of a challenge. Not all polls ask questions that address the same things. For example, one of the studies we linked above asked about the public's acceptance of a basic fact: has our planet been getting warmer over the past few decades? In contrast, one of the polls used here assessed feelings about climate change by asking its participants whether they felt the media "exaggerate the seriousness of global warming."

Still, there are ways to convert these specific sentiments into a generalized sense about the seriousness of climate change. Plus, the variety of polls provide some distinct advantages. For example, this survey provides a valuable outgroup to the US population, in that a number of surveys cover all the nations of the European Union. In addition, several of the polls (those performed by the Pew) include ZIP code information, allowing the authors to compare polling trends with record high and low temperatures in the nearby area.

As with another recent survey, they do end up seeing a correlation between acceptance of climate change and the weather. However, the correlation with local weather is rather weak. Instead, the authors found a stronger correlation with the global mean temperature. That's somewhat surprising. Most years, the global mean isn't especially well covered by the press, which suggests this correlation might be a bit spurious. (If we accept the economy is an influence, then the correlation will be very difficult to tease apart. Especially considering the coldest global temperature of the last decade happened to correspond to the onset of job losses in the US.)

In any case, the poll numbers indicate there are some things that we probably can't blame them on. For example, acceptance started to drop prior to the Copenhagen climate conference and the release of the e-mails stolen from the University of East Anglia. Both of these may have been big news among people who care passionately about climate change, but they came too late to explain the public's reduced acceptance of the science.

Based on their statistical analysis, the authors conclude the economy is the strongest influence on the public's acceptance of climate science. This held when the authors analyzed things separately in each US state based on its local unemployment rate. The effect showed up in European countries, as well. In Gallup polls, this correlation holds all the way back to 1989, when the current string of unusually warm years began. Overall, the authors found unemployment had an effect that was over three times stronger than either the local weather or skeptical coverage of climate in the media.


http://arst.ch/syw

OMG this you'll like :) .
March 21, 2012 1:01:12 PM

I hate staring at statistics but it makes sense to me.

It kinda hard to care about global warming when you can't pay the rent, or buy food, or put gas in your car to get your kids to school.
March 21, 2012 1:05:50 PM

Not only that, but many who insist the worst have costs sky rocketing to meet compliance, and add 2 n 2
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March 21, 2012 5:32:33 PM

I'm still pissed my AC unit cost twice as much to fix 2 years ago because I couldn't buy the coil anymore. It was discontinued under the new law.. forcing me to buy a whole new AC unit.
March 22, 2012 1:01:26 AM

Oldmangamer_73 said:
I hate staring at statistics but it makes sense to me.

It kinda hard to care about global warming when you can't pay the rent, or buy food, or put gas in your car to get your kids to school.


The thread title sums it up :) .

JAYDEEJOHN said:
Not only that, but many who insist the worst have costs sky rocketing to meet compliance, and add 2 n 2


Our electricity prices are going crazy in Oz. So many fossil fuels and a carbon tax.

riser said:
I'm still pissed my AC unit cost twice as much to fix 2 years ago because I couldn't buy the coil anymore. It was discontinued under the new law.. forcing me to buy a whole new AC unit.


That's just wasteful. I hate it when they try and protect the environment and end up screwing it up in some other way.
March 24, 2012 7:13:34 AM

Many of the rabid proponents of AGW (Al Gore and Barbra Streisand, for example) do not lead lifestyles that show they are true believers.

This violates one of the first principles I learned in military service - "Leadership by Example". If they do not act like they believe in AGW, why should I?
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