Climate skepticism blamed on the economy, stupid

Of course, things like lack of any warming trend for a decade couldn’t have anything to do with it. Could it? Climategate? Glaciergate? Fakegate? Naw. It’s the economy, stupid.

Source: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2001/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2001/trend

Climate Change Skepticism Stems from Recession, UConn Study Finds

By: Christine Buckley, CLAS Today

In recent years, the American public has grown increasingly skeptical of the existence of man-made climate change. Although pundits and scholars have suggested several reasons for this trend, a new study shows that the recent Great Recession has been a major factor.

Lyle Scruggs, associate professor of political science in UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, suggests that this shift in opinion is related primarily to the public’s concern about the economy.

“That the economy impacts the way people prioritize the problem of climate change is uncontroversial,” says Scruggs. “What is more puzzling is why support for basic climate science has declined dramatically during this period.

“Many people believe that part of the solution to climate change is suppression of economic activity,” which is an unpopular viewpoint when the economy is bad, Scruggs continues. “So it’s easier for people to disbelieve in climate change, than to accept that it is real but that little should be done about it right now.”

Scruggs and UConn political science graduate student Salil Benegal published their findings online in the journal Global Environmental Change on Feb. 24. An abstract is available here.

The study relies primarily on information drawn from a number of national and international public opinion surveys dating to the late 1980s.

The researchers found significant drops in public climate change beliefs in the late 2000s: for example, the Gallup 2008 poll reported that between 60 and 65 percent of people agreed with statements of opinion that global warming is imminent, it is not exaggerated, and the theory is agreed upon by scientists. By 2010, those numbers had dropped to about 50 percent.

The authors also found a strong relationship between jobs and people’s prioritization of climate change. When the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, an average 60 percent of people surveyed said that climate change had already begun happening. But when the jobless rate reached 10 percent, that number dropped to about 50 percent.

The paper also evaluated three other explanations for the crisis in public confidence: political partisanship, negative media coverage, and short- term weather conditions.

“We think that this is the first study to consider the economy and these explanations at the same time, says Scruggs.”

Of these, the authors found that faith in climate change dropped across political parties, among Republicans, Democrats, and independents. They also found that that the “Climategate” email hacking controversy and reported errors in the 2010 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which both occurred after public faith in climate change began to drop, were not factors.

The authors did find that if people had experienced a recent change in short-term weather, they were more likely to believe that climate is changing over the long-term. But when the study controlled for these effects, the economy mattered more than the weather, says Scruggs.

The authors also marshaled international evidence showing that European opinion points in the same direction.

“There is probably a stronger overall ‘pro-climate’ ethos in Europe,” says Scruggs. “Still, even in Europe, countries experiencing more severe national recessions saw larger declines in beliefs that global warming was occurring.”

The researchers speculate that cognitive dissonance, which arises when people experience conflicting thoughts and behaviors, could explain this pattern. Most people view economic growth and environmental protection to be in conflict, so admitting that climate change is real but should be ignored in favor of economic growth leads to an internal philosophical clash.

“Psychologically, people have to evaluate economic imperatives in the recession, and that can create conflicting concerns,” Scruggs says.

When confronted with a desire to boost the economy, he continues, people seem to convince themselves that climate change might not really be happening.

Now that the economy is beginning to bounce back and the unemployment rate is shrinking, Scruggs says it makes sense that belief in global warming has begin to rebound.

“We would expect such a rebound to continue as the economy improves,” he says. “You wouldn’t make that prediction if you think something else, like political rhetoric, is the issue.”

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Per the top graph, so as to dispel the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the defenders of faith, here’s the larger HadCRUT record for the last 30+ years – it WAS warming, but seems to have stopped in the last decade and is now headed down a bit.

Source: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1980/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2001/trend

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steveta_uk

Scruggs I see uses the Gleickian phrase “pro-climate”.
Apparently over in Europe we have a stronger pro-climate ethos. Quite true – we’re all for climate over here, and couldn’t do without it.

NC Skeptic

Let me get this right. The climate is heating up. We must kill the economy to fix it. When the economy tanks, people stop believing. What a Conundrum.

Mark Bofill

In a way, it’s refreshing to hear this stated so baldly:
“Many people believe that part of the solution to climate change is suppression of economic activity,”
Thanks for the news flash there Lyle, I hadn’t noticed. 😉
I know post normal science methodology is vogue these days, so I guess finding evidence to support the theory without looking for evidence to invalidate it is par for the course. Still, just for kicks, have you considered the effects of climategate, climategate 2.0, gleick’s fiasco, and the glaringly obvious failure of global temperature increases to live up to the hype? Nah, didn’t think so.

Tom Rowan

Typical commie libs…blame anything on their failed hoax except that the truth got out.

GeoLurking

I actually tend to think this is somewhat accurate.
Once the general public saw (feelt the bite) of where all this FREE MONEY! is really coming from, it tended to promote a clarity of mind.

Katherine

Of these, the authors found that faith in climate change dropped across political parties, among Republicans, Democrats, and independents.
Yup yup. It’s a religion.

theduke

The idea that people might just becoming more informed and convinced by the skeptical view of climate change seems not to have occurred to them.
And the assertion that the public’s view of climate change is turning around with the so-called improvement in the economy is nothing more than wishful thinking.

Roy

No questions about revelations that warmist scientists cooked the numbers on their “studies” ????

Joe Haberman

I blame Bush.
/sarc

ShrNfr

Gosh Virginia there is an AMO after all…

Dave

As a UConn graduate I am ashamed of my alma mater. How can this pseudo-psychological garbage pass as scholarliness.

Bengt Abelsson

Temperatures declining
Belief in Global Warming declining
Have to be economic recession.
U Con me

Urederra

Economy drops, temperature drops. There is correlation then it must be true.
meh…

James of the West

no significant warming for a decade and no new record annual temp will stop people from panic and make them skeptical of doomsayers…. But hadcrut4 apparently makes 2010 hotter than 1998 (watch this space) which will bring it into line with GISTEMP.

Meaningless sociological study pretending to be science. Looks like it was made a la Mann, with cherry-picked data and figures stuffed and hammered into the endgame “hypothesis.” This one is easy: Nothing skeptics do will make a difference and the weak peons who drop their support because they are being robbed are just selfish sinners.

John West

“They also found that that the “Climategate” email hacking controversy and reported errors in the 2010 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which both occurred after public faith in climate change began to drop, were not factors.”
….but when skeptics point out that temperature rise begins before CO2 rise they’re told: well the CO2 might not of started the warming but contributed more and more to it as it warmed. If the logic works one way, why doesn’t it work the other?
Never mind, I’m obviously suffering from “cognitive dissonance”.

Jeff D.

I can see a link to the economy.
Millions of people who lost their jobs and didn’t get a green job now have more time to surf. Many have noticed in the news that the CAGW researches still seem to be getting a paycheck so they follow the money. Many of those end up here or similar sites and discover with a little common sense deductive reasoning that it is all a freaking HOAX.

Mr Lynn

Who is paying this guy Scruggs for such rampant (and inedible) baloney?
I sure hope it’s not the taxpayers, but I fear the worst.
/Mr Lynn

We’ll see what happens with that “pro-climate ethos” in Europe after this past winter….economy, huh?

Steve from Rockwood

“That the economy impacts the way people prioritize the problem of climate change is uncontroversial,” says Scruggs. “What is more puzzling is why support for basic climate science has declined dramatically during this period.”

This guy just doesn’t get it. Of course there was a correlation between the economy and global warming science. The latter was ignored until the former collapsed in 2008. Then people started to look around. Why are my electricity bills so high (renewable energy)? Why are gas prices so high (production was limited)? Why are climate scientists keeping out dissenters while questioning their own science (Climategate emails)? Why has it stopped warming (the models are wrong)?
Now that the economy is back on track Scruggs will be eating his words while global warming alarm continues to fade away.

“We would expect such a rebound to continue as the economy improves,” he says. “You wouldn’t make that prediction if you think something else, like political rhetoric, is the issue.”

File that quote under irony. The man lives in a bubble, probably not far from a university.

Green Sand

In the UK back in 2008 there was a definite correlation, well more like a perfect storm:-
Gordon Brown + Global Financial Crisis + Climate Change Act!
A real live in your face “Annus horribilis” and now 4 years on and we have still only managed to get rid of one element!

Next thing you know, the tanking economy will reflect reduced job security at the UConn Poly Sci Dept. (Or will Global Climate Weirding be to blame?)
Now THAT would be a real tragedy!
Kurt in Switzerland

Bob Diaz

Maybe some day someone will show a correlation between increased CO2 and Climate skepticism. Anyone have a few million in grant money for me to try and “prove” this? :-))

A lot of it depends on how you count decades – you seem to use an 11+ year decade.
http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2000/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2001/to:2011/trend/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2000/to:2010/trend/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2002/to:2012/trend
shows 10 year periods 2000-(start)2010 (rising trend) 2001-2001 (slightly falling) and 2002-2012 (moderately falling trend).

Stephen Singer

Why not a trend line from 1998 till now? It would probably still be down a bit over three extra years making the point even stronger.

Ceri Phipps

I’ve just collected my car from the local garage where it was being serviced. The owner informed me that he was closing down at the end of the month as business was so bad. I didn’t ask him his views on global warming. I think he had other things on his mind.

Pete H

Are they saying, in a long way round, that the public now knows it has always been about “Follow the Money”? My, they have been scraping the barrel over the last couple of days!

Dagfinn

Why not, they could be right, but I’m not sure it matters. And instead of “cognitive dissonance” I would label it a normal pragmatic attitude to the real world. In a hunter-gatherer society, does it matter if the animal is non-existent or just impossible to catch? To a modern person who is not really interested in the science, does it matter if AGW is false or just impossible to impact without ruining the economy?

Mike H

One of these days they will understand correlation does not mean causation.

John West

“pro-climate ethos”
What the [self snip: thinking of the children]!
GO CLIMATE! GO CLIMATE! GO CLIMATE GO!
CLIMATE’S #1, CLIMATE’S #1!
GOOOOO CLIMATE! YEA!
Hey, I’m pro-climate. I’m even for Global Warming. It’s really too bad they’re not right, we could just keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere and have (sub)Tropics from Pole to Pole! But alas, the climate does what the climate does whether your ethos are pro-climate or con-climate. LOL.

John

As others have noted, this passage is fascinating:
“Many people believe that part of the solution to climate change is suppression of economic activity,” which is an unpopular viewpoint when the economy is bad, Scruggs continues. “So it’s easier for people to disbelieve in climate change, than to accept that it is real but that little should be done about it right now.”
I don’t think that MANY people believe this. I think that MANY people on the fringes of the left believe that, but not many others. In other words, people who don’t know anyone who has lost a job in basic industry and haven’t themselves lost such a job, or people who aren’t impacted by $4 per gallon gasoline, or people who don’t draw connections between unemployment and high energy prices. MANY of THOSE people might believe that suppression of economic activity is a good thing.

What I find really amusing is that we see a political science professor (an oxymorom in itself), discussing the economy (not much in the way of credentials there), to explain human behavior.

Neo

I’ve said for years that our governments and people keep acting like there is an endless supply of money out there. When there isn’t, they take another look.

Of course the worldwide public (why just “American”) has grown sceptical of AGW. It does not exist in any form as explained in my new paper at
http://principia-scientific.org/publications/psi_radiated_energy.pdf
REPLY: This is just repackaged “Slaying the Sky Dragon” rubbish. Cotton asked me to carry it and I’ve flat out refused. They created a “journal” to try to legitimze papers published there, which to me speaks of desperation.
Readers might want to revisit this story where Dr. Fred Singer talks about the issue:
“Climate Deniers” Are Giving Us Skeptics a Bad Name
-Anthony

Kaboom

If they think this little economic downturn is changing the mood they can’t possibly think about surviving the [snip . . kbmod] storm that would erupt over the economic implosion their approved lifestyle budgets for energy and civil liberties would cause.

paul clouser

I’ve always thought of the University of Connecticut as UConn. Now thanks to Bengt Abelsson I have U Con. …Cool.

“Most people view economic growth and environmental protection to be in conflict, so admitting that climate change is real but should be ignored in favor of economic growth leads to an internal philosophical clash.”
Uhmm, that’s because the loons believe man is an aberration of nature and not part of nature. Ergo, anything which works to benefit mankind must work to the detriment of nature. This is the way the loons think, this is the way they’ve framed the discussion.
Don’t believe me? They wanted coal out, but they’ve not advocated the cheapest carbon free electric generation….. hydro. Nor, have they advocated the next carbon free generation source, nuclear. So, we found a bunch of nat gas, which emits a lot less CO2 than coal…… but, the loons line up against that as well, now. There isn’t any form of energy, if economically successful, which these lunatics would find acceptable.
And, it isn’t because they treasure nature, either. They destroyed an entire habitat(tortoise) to plant solar panels. The bird mincers in Cali are killing our Golden eagles by the flock. They whine and cry about disturbing the ocean and habitat, but advocate putting useless windmills up and down our coastlines. How stupid is that? They’ll destroy as much as any oil derrick, but we’ll get much less fuel and energy from it. The thing is these people aren’t in conflict with economic advancement, they are in conflict with human advancement. They are misanthropists.

Bait and switch:
“Most people view economic growth and environmental protection to be in conflict>/i>
Do they? Is there proof?
I thought the paper was about the growth of AGW skepticism as a result of the economy shrinking but we are suddenly presented with quite a different animal. This phrase is inferring that skeptics are against enviromental protection. An assertion that I find offensive.

Dr. Dave

I love it! One discipline of a pseudo-science explaining a diminishing belief in another pseudo-science.

Sorry mods, did not notice the wrong >

Ken Hall

Surely if people thought it was a real and pressing problem, then they would want action taken now, almost regardless of cost, as the Alarmist believers do. Suggesting that they would believe in it, but not want any money spent solving it is ridiculous. Most people do not believe it, because we know that according to their own measurements, (from HadCrut) climate alarmists have failed to demonstrate significant (or any) warming over the last 15 years in spite of CO2 emissions shooting up.
Bottom line, where is the EVIDENCE? A slight downturn in Arctic ice, balanced by an upturn in Antarctic ice does not cut it as far as evidence is concerned. Likewise, sea-levels which show that the rate of increase is declining, likewise a lack of tropospheric heat island, likewise no statistically significant increase in Hurricanes, likewise normal variations in snow-fall from year to year. Likewise the satellite record showing that global Glacier coverage has not changed overall for 10 years. Some have shrunk, some have grown and some have remained static…etc…
IF the alarmist hypothesis was true, they could point to a specific action of climate which would verify their projections and show that their theory is has not been falsified yet, thus verifying their hypothesis according to scientific method.
Sadly for the alarmists, they have failed to even provide such a hypothesis, instead fraudulently presenting naturally variable weather as proof of global warming, and a constantly adjusted temperature record, under the control of the Alarmist’s own high command. The models are, at the very least, on the cusp of being disproven, and if the global average temperature anomaly does not rapidly increase by over 1 Celsius degree very soon, I think it will be safe to say that the models have been falsified by empirical observation. Which is what happens in true science!

Nylo

So they’ve found a correlation and now they are claiming causation? Like if nothing else happened in this decade that could have made people rethink about what they believe or not?

Terry

“Many people believe that part of the solution to climate change is suppression of economic activity,” which is an unpopular viewpoint when the economy is bad, Scruggs continues. “So it’s easier for people to disbelieve in climate change, than to accept that it is real but that little should be done about it right now.”
Wow talk about a stretch. It might make sense if they were to speculate that the prospect of economic suppression would deter people from agreeing to drastic responses to agw like cap and trade or carbon taxation, etc. But to make the statement that the prospect of economic suppression would cause people to change whether or not they actually believe agw to be true is really really really out there.
How can these people not be laughed out of the peer reviewed process? How can the publisher publish this in all seriousness and expect to be looked at with any scientific respect whatsoever?
Napoleon has been quoted saying something to the effect that you shouldn’t interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. These alarmists are making every mistake in the book. The “cause” cannot possibly succeed under such a constant and crazy stupid series pronouncements and actions on their parts. Self-destruction appears to be the order of the day for agw activists.

WhatHeSaid

Only commented at your excellent site once before, but it was to make the same point as this one, which is that in Bob Beckman’s book “The DownWave”, along with many other sociological changes that occur in depressions, there is a move away from fringe beliefs and religions to mainstream ones. Not sure there is a way back to the churchgoing times of the past, but it makes sense to me that with a lot of free time and apparent wealth, people go a bit loopy.

TomRude

How about that one:
http://anp.sagepub.com/content/46/3/265.full.pdf+html
The impact of climate change on obsessive compulsive checking concerns
1. Mairwen K Jones1
2. Bethany M Wootton2
3. Lisa D Vaccaro1
4. Ross G Menzies1
1. 1The University of Sydney Anxiety Disorders Clinic, Discipline of Behavioural and Social Sciences in Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Lidcombe, Australia
2. 2Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia
1. Mairwen Jones, Discipline of Behavioural and Social Sciences in Health, O Building Room 159, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, PO Box 170, Lidcombe, NSW 1825, Australia. Email: mairwen.jones@sydney.edu.au
Abstract
Objective: To investigate whether climate change has impacted on the nature of the obsessions or compulsions experienced by patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Methods: The sample comprised 50 patients with OCD checking subtype who had presented at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at The University of Sydney seeking treatment during the period March 2008 to November 2009. Details of the type of obsessions and compulsions directly related to climate change phenomena were identified.
Results: Fourteen of the 50 participants (28%) were identified as having OCD concerns directly related to climate change. The most frequent concerns involved electricity, water and gas wastage. Less frequent concerns included pets dying of thirst and one participant was concerned about house damage due to floors cracking, pipes leaking; roof problems and white ant activity. Compulsions included checking and rechecking pet water bowls, light switches, taps, stoves, skirting boards, pipes, roofs and wooden structures. While these behaviours are not particularly unusual for people with this condition, it was the rationale they provided for carrying them out that was surprising. Instead of checking and rechecking so as to prevent fire or flood, the rituals were specifically performed so as to reduce their global footprint, or respond to climate change-induced negative events.
Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that the types of obsessions and compulsions experienced by 28% of our sample were directly aligned with the current issue of climate change and the perceived dangers associated with this phenomenon. To our knowledge this represents the first documentation of the significant impact of climate change on the nature of the concerns experienced by people with OCD checking subtype. We suggest that mental health professionals need to be aware of, and assess for the presence of such concerns.

Joe

The authors did find that if people had experienced a recent change in short-term weather, they were more likely to believe that climate is changing over the long-term. But when the study controlled for these effects, the economy mattered more than the weather, says Scruggs.
Does this mean what it seems to mean? That changing weather affects people’s beliefs but, if we remove the effect that changing weather has on people’s beliefs then the economy affects people’s beliefs more than changing weather does after we’ve removed the effect that the weather has.
If that’s accepted scientific methodology then may I present the following rationale that all climate change is natural, based on that logic:
Increased CO2 is likely to affect the climate but, when the data is controlled for that effect, natural variation matters more than increased CO2.
Can I have a grant please?

TimH

Of course, it’s harder to pick one’s pocket when they have their grip firmly on their cash.

Bill Davis

Certainly not the only source of stupidity out there – A proposed potential role for increasing atmospheric CO2 as a promoter of weight gain and obesity
http://www.nature.com/nutd/journal/v2/n3/full/nutd20122a.html#Background
.

Oh, wait, this is good. Now when the Gleickians complain about how “the deniers” have been so effective in obfuscation the science and manipulating the public, now we can tell them “No, it’s the economy stupid”! And it’s peer reviewed to boot!!! 🙂

Miguel Rakiewicz

13 March 2012 – 12:44 pm
The Tyee, a Lefty Vancouver, British Columbia, website
that believes anything Warmeristas say, is now finding out that
the Canadian province’s system of carbon offsets has places
such as schools and hospitals “paying the Pacific Carbon Trust
$25 for each tonne of greenhouse gasses they emit, regardless of
what it costs the PCT to offset those emissions.
“In 2010, that added up to $1.5 million for the University of
British Columbia, $1.15 million for Vancouver Coastal Health and
$663,998 for BC Housing. ”
TT suspects that corporations are benefiting by paying much
less than public institutions to the PCT but receiving far more
from it.
For more details of this waltzing in the dark for taxpayers’dollars
originally meant for good education and health services, see
story: Paying Too Much for Carbon Offsets? – 13 March 2012
[ http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/03/13/BC-Carbon-Offsets/ ]
Miguel Rakiewicz