Survey shows climate change scepticism has nothing to do with science

The University of Queensland (UQ) surveyed more than 300 federal, state and local government politicians about their views on climate change. The headline figure: about 70 per cent believed in human-induced climate change and rated it one of the country’s most important challenges.

But when they broke this figure down by party affiliation, this is what emerged:

  • 98% of Greens said the planet was warming because of human activity producing greenhouse gases
  • 89% of Labor pollies agreed, along with
  • 57% of non-aligned politicians and
  • 38% of Liberal-Nationals.

This presents us with two complete WTFs.

  1. As Jeff Sparrow points out, there must be one climate sceptic in the Greens.
  2. Climate change scepticism moves almost entirely along party lines.

If there were a serious, legitimate scientific debate about climate change, this would not be the case.

There would be people from all partieswho would be convinced by either side of the argument. Of course, there would be some degree of bias along ideological grounds; Greens and Labor are traditionally more pro-environment while the Coalition tends to support business. But it could not possibly be so stark.

In reality, we have people automatically taking positions on a question of scientific debate based entirely on their political beliefs.

The only conclusion a thinking person can draw is that climate change scepticism is an entirely political movement, which has nothing to do with science and everything to do with ideology. It could not be more obvious.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Tim Dean says:

    Agreed. Ideology and worldview flavour the way facts or science are received via the Great Mover of modern thinking in our Age of Unreason: confirmation bias.

    I’ve written about this quite a bit on Ockham’s Beard, not only about climate scepticism, but also about politics and religion in general.

    There comes a point where more facts don’t win an argument. You need to either appeal to emotion (often fallaciously), or change the way the other person looks at the world or problem in the first place. Or just concede that humans are irrational apes and move on to a different topic of conversation.

  2. Graham Dawson says:

    Is it not also possible that 1) political affiliations may be *caused* by pre-existing views on climate change? or 2) that there is a non-causal correlation between political ideology and climate changes views? Given those possibilities I think your conclusion may need to be reconsidered, at least until further research discounts those additional possibilities.

  3. Josh says:

    Graham, I think the strength of the correlation makes it easy to discount your #2.
    Your #1 is more interesting – I believe in climate change therefore I work for the Greens.
    I don’t think this would hold for anyone who has been in politics for more than, say, 10 years. (Remember, the people surveyed are politicians, not voters.) Global warming was not enough of an issue before then to have driven many people’s political affiliations.
    And widespread climate change scepticism among conservatives is a very recent phenomenon – an emissions trading scheme was Howard Government policy at the 2007 election.
    No, in the vast majority of cases, the political ideology can clearly be shown to have motivated the climate change position, not the other way around.

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