The Conversation: 21% of Rural Australia Ignores Climate Change News

climate concern
Australian Climate Concern vs Age. Source University of Canberra Digital News Report 2020

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Surprise – people who live close to the land in bushfire alley are more likely to ignore media climate change claims.

The number of climate deniers in Australia is more than double the global average, new survey finds

by Caroline Fisher and Sora Park,  The Conversation
JUNE 16, 2020

Australian news consumers are far more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news users in other countries. That’s according to new research that surveyed 2,131 Australians about their news consumption in relation to climate change.

The Digital News Report: Australia 2020 was conducted by the University of Canberra at the end of the severe bushfire season during January 17 and February 8, 2020.

The polarised nature of the debate

The data show older generations are much less interested in news about climate change than news in general, and younger people are much more interested in news about climate change than other news.

News consumers in regional Australia are also less likely to pay attention to news about climate change. One fifth (21%) of regional news consumers say they aren’t interested in climate change information compared to only 11% of their city counterparts. 

Given this survey was conducted during the bushfire season that hit regional and rural Australia hardest, these findings appear surprising at first glance. 

But it’s possible the results simply reflect the ageing nature of regional and rural communities and a tendency toward more conservative politics. The report shows 27% of regional and rural news consumers identify as right-wing compared to 23% of city news consumers.

Read more:

The original report is available here.

Higher skepticism amongst older people is understandable. Older people remember the previous ice age hype, which alarmists these days try to pretend never happened. I remember watching Leonard Nimoy’s ice age documentary as a kid, everyone was talking about it – it was a big hit in Australia.

The late climate scientist Stephen Schneider appeared in Nimoy’s ice age documentary. A few years afterwards he did a backflip and started promoting global warming concerns.

What about rural Australia? The skepticism in rural Australia in my opinion is also a red flag for the credibility of climate claims.

If climate change was having a noticeable impact, rural Australia is where the impact of climate change should be felt first, but it is in rural Australia you find the greatest proportion of climate skeptics. The study authors dismiss rural skepticism as being due to the older rural demographic, but this is a pretty weak explanation IMO.

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June 16, 2020 6:15 pm

Older people also remember previous droughts, heatwaves, bush fire seasons and backburning.
Oh, and reliable electricity from coal fired plants, too

Reply to  Analitik
June 16, 2020 6:35 pm

Does that explain why there is no old Greta?

Reply to  Curious George
June 16, 2020 10:04 pm

There is a 1993 Greta. Severn Suzuki, fretting about the impeding annihilation of her generation at the first summit in Rio. Her father, Canadian enviro guru and a celebrity David Suzuki, has made a fortune peddling bad scenarios to the public.

She is now in her 40s, living an affluent life still peddling the doom-and-gloom scenarios…

Here she is

a happy little debunker
Reply to  maarten
June 17, 2020 12:44 am

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…

BILL KOUTALIANOS: Sure, yeah. UAH, RSS, HadCRUT, GISS data shows a 17-year flat trend which suggests there may be something wrong with the Co2 warming theory?

DAVID SUZUKI: Sorry, yeah, what is the reference? I don’t…

BILL KOUTALIANOS: Well, they’re the main data sets that IPCC use: UAH, University of Alabama, Huntsville; GISS, Goddard Institute of Science; HadCRUT. I don’t know what that stands for, HadCRUT; and RSS, Remote Sensing something. So those data sets suggest a 17-year flat trend, which suggests there may be a problem with the Co2.

DAVID SUZUKI: No, well, there may be a climate sceptic down in Huntsville, Alabama, who has taken the data and come to that conclusion…

Reply to  Analitik
June 17, 2020 12:34 am

Given this survey was conducted during the bushfire season that hit regional and rural Australia hardest, these findings appear surprising at first glance.

Duh. When people are worried about whether their homes and lives are in danger, is it any surprise that they are more interested in “local news” than hyper-politicised BS from MSM?

June 16, 2020 7:01 pm

The oldies were never exposed to the propaganda from Leftist teachers and the “old” then un-biased ABC either.

June 16, 2020 7:03 pm

Kry-kee – I figure ya got ya numbers reversed – 21% of rura Auz believe in glimat change

Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 16, 2020 9:28 pm

I pay attention. it gives me a laugh at least once a week. 😉

iain russell
Reply to  lee
June 17, 2020 12:04 am


Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 17, 2020 4:25 am

rikk is right
we have a few fools around here , but the majority of farmers i know, reckon its rubbish
the blow in from suburbia newchums keep trying to drum it up but theyre being ignored.
local bumper sticker id love to also own
save the environment-plant a greenie!

Mickey Reno
Reply to  rickk
June 18, 2020 7:02 am

We know that at least 51% of registered voters don’t buy into this shinola, since the last major election was pimped to be all about climate change, and the Chicken Littles[1], scaredy-cats[2] and cryo-babies[3] lost. Although the new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, (of the Liberal Party, which is the party of the right, in Aus) is some pretty weak tea on the actual issues, though the alarmists happily label him a D Nye er.

[1] character from children’s tale who panicked and ran around crying “the sky is falling” because she didn’t understand a simple phenomena
[2] alarmists from the bureaucratic and academic public sector who claim CO2 is going to kill humanity
[3] individuals from [2] who specialize in worrying about ice melting when it is warm

June 16, 2020 7:09 pm

Honestly, The Conversation is one of the most untrustworthy, biased and censored platform that constantly removes any contrary science about clime change… have absolutely no credibility at all in my view. Any article on climate is tainted

Reply to  Dave
June 16, 2020 7:50 pm

So what part of the article was false now that you’ve shot off your bias? That’s what I thought, just more blathering.

Reply to  markl
June 16, 2020 8:38 pm

The title you nit.

Please name one climate change DENIER.

The climate changes, and has for millions/billions of years. The only deniers I see on this site are those who deny the science that shows CO2 effect on the average global temperature is undefinable.

I am sure the bias Dave is referring to is a selection bias of articles/topics covered by that rag.

John in Oz
Reply to  Drake
June 16, 2020 10:46 pm

The title says ‘Climate denier’, an even worse label than ‘climate change denier’.

There is also an event in Adelaide tomorrow titled Crisis and Denial which includes the infamous Stephan Lewandowsky facilitated by Misha Ketchell from The Conversation.

Thankfully, I am cutting my toenails at that time so won’t be able to attend.

george Tetley
Reply to  John in Oz
June 17, 2020 1:09 am

CNN = Chit Not News !

Reply to  John in Oz
June 17, 2020 4:30 am

huh he was in the uk
how the hell??? did he get in when OS travel is still banned
only returnee expats allowed and 2 weeks quarantine
oh hes slid in using expat i bet
nasty slimy ooze that he is
just looking at his pic makes me shudder, theres something veru “off” about that chap

Reply to  Drake
June 17, 2020 6:39 am

What exactly is the science you speak of which shows a causal relationship between atmospheric CO2 and temperatures?

You have the causation precisely the wrong way round: CO2 concentration is a FUNCTION of temperature, not the other way round.

Al Miller
Reply to  markl
June 17, 2020 8:44 am

The title is a derogatory insult leading any intelligent reader to tune out right there. Blather away Mark.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Dave
June 16, 2020 11:23 pm

The Conversation, where no actual dissenting views are allowed a voice, so no actual conversation.

Real Climate, where real facts about climate that do not support the narrative are deleted immediately.

Skeptical Science, where they are as gullible and credulous as it is possible to be.

Open Mind, where the minds are very firmly closed.

There is an obvious pattern of Newspeak in all of this. The new Ministry of Truth…

Reply to  Dave
June 17, 2020 4:27 am

funny how the abc tout conversation so often
but they seem to claim not affiliated?
its not a conversationits being told
and trying to express opposing views?
talk to your hand

June 16, 2020 7:09 pm

City people are also more affected by UHI which is mistaken for ‘Climate Change”. Country people are also more practical and observant.

June 16, 2020 7:24 pm

Does this make me an honorary Aussie ?

george Tetley
Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 17, 2020 1:14 am

You forgot the most important thing;
And want to go live in Kiwiland

Reply to  george Tetley
June 17, 2020 4:32 am

NO aussie want to go live there
specially not since the ardent one got into power.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  george Tetley
June 17, 2020 6:49 pm

Kiwi Land. Filled with Hobbits and sheep and people trying to escape to the West Island.

If it wasn’t for rugby we would throw rocks at them.

James Francisco
Reply to  sendergreen
June 17, 2020 11:03 am

I tried to be an honorary Aussie for about a year. It is hard. You have to drink a lot of good beer and be polite but at the same time express your view with a smile. My body could not tolerate that much beer. Wimpy merican I guess.

Reply to  James Francisco
June 17, 2020 1:46 pm

James Francisco says :
I tried to be an honorary Aussie for about a year. It is hard. You have to drink a lot of good beer and be polite but at the same time express your view with a smile. My body could not tolerate that much beer. Wimpy merican I guess.
My affinity for the Aussies and Kiwi’s is historical. Our families shed blood on the same ground long ago. My dad’s uncle James was killed in action in the front line trench at Hill 60 Ypres, just before the Canadians were relieved by the ANZAC’s in 1916. Three months later his brother James was killed on the north side of Mouquet Farm after they relieved the ANZAC’s.

And, beer too !

June 16, 2020 7:39 pm

Most country folk are aware that the single biggest protection against bushfires is the regular checkerboard approach to fuel load reduction in forests. Burn out various patches at a time to allow wildlife to move to from one spot to another, then come back again in following years and repeat.

In 2020, the culmination of a three year drought, and significantly cut hazard reduction funding by both NSW and VIC over many years, proved to be fatal.

Just restore fuel load reduction funding. And of course defund the ABC, a lot of global warming “news” would disappear overnight.

michael hart
June 16, 2020 7:42 pm

“The number of climate deniers in Australia is more than double the global average, new survey finds”

lol. So it appears to imply that thinking the issue is “not at all serious” is enough to qualify someone for the moniker of “denier”, whereas thinking it to be merely “not very serious” allows me to escape into a different, less perorative, category? How fantastically arbitrary.

Reply to  michael hart
June 17, 2020 12:35 am

Yes that is basically how these dropkicks think if you are not alarmed and running around that the sky is falling you are a “denier”. There is a solid majority of Australians that know our population and emissions are so trivial what we do or don’t do will have no impact and so they just ignore it. The more the green/left try and push the more that majority group pushes back. It is why climate change is a non issue in elections except a couple of seats that have high populations of the left minority.

June 16, 2020 8:15 pm

From the article
“This presents a real challenge to news organisations. They must find ways of telling the climate change story to engage the 15% of people who aren’t interested, but are still feeling its effects”
What effects?

June 16, 2020 8:20 pm

We miss Tim Flannery and his total BS claims of climate doom.

iain russell
Reply to  waza
June 17, 2020 12:07 am

Indeed. The marvel that is Flanners is his escape to Manly-on-Sea, where he will be among the first to be squelched by The Big One.

June 16, 2020 8:22 pm

Far more worried about the idiotic, useless, anti-economic activities to combat “climate change” than I am by any model based fantasy.

June 16, 2020 8:35 pm

The study authors dismiss rural skepticism as being due to the older rural demographic, but this is a pretty weak explanation IMO.“. OK, let’s look at some numbers: …

One fifth (21%) of regional news consumers say they aren’t interested in climate change information compared to only 11% of their city counterparts.“>. That’s nearly 2:1, or a 10pct-pt difference..

But it’s possible the results simply reflect the ageing nature of regional and rural communities and a tendency toward more conservative politics. The report shows 27% of regional and rural news consumers identify as right-wing compared to 23% of city news consumers.“. That’s only 1.2:1, or a 4pct-pt difference.

… so yes, really! That was a pretty weak explanation.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
June 20, 2020 1:41 am

“say they aren’t interested in climate change information ”
“Not interested” is not a statement about agreement or belief . Just another small act to mislead and confuse.

June 16, 2020 8:58 pm

I have lived all of my 58 years in the same central Texas city. Population was about 35,000 when I was a teenager. Now it is around 75,000. But it still takes only minutes to drive into the countryside, farms and ranches and open native fields. Sorry, but I have seen nothing in those 58 years to believe things have gotten worse when it comes to climate. Perhaps slightly different but not worse.
I do believe there is a 65-70 year warming/cooling cycle. If correct I may live long enough to see a return to the weather of my youth. Snow was more frequent and heavier in the cooler 60s and 70s. But the continuing warming since the last ice age may prevent a repeat of decent snowfall in the coming cooling half of the cycle. Decent snow in central Texas is a relative term. More than a couple of inches.
What I am most interested in hoping to live long enough to see is if the dust storms of the 60s and 70s return to central Texas. Winds used to routinely bring dust from west Texas to central Texas. That pretty much ended in the 1980s with only rare cases of dust since then.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Myron
June 16, 2020 10:55 pm

Indeed the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is a natural climate cycle that affects particularly North America and Europe where the overwhelming majority of the past surface global average temperature record has been collected:
The satellite record starts in 1979 around the lowest point in the cycle, to gain any understand of the effect of increasing atmospheric CO2, if any, will have to wait until at least one complete cycle ~2040.

Steve Keohane
Reply to  Myron
June 17, 2020 9:02 am

It’s the city/rural thing. Rural folks live in the natural climate, city folks live in an artificial climate. Guess who knows more about the natural world?

June 16, 2020 9:21 pm

Presumably 79% of Rural Australians are interested in climate change to some degree which makes sense if you are a cockie [farmer for you non-ozians]. If you are trying to produce grain or sheep you want to know what the probability of rain is this season.
Whether the season varies because of the Chinese power stations “belching” C02, the number of sunspots or pertubations in the planet’s orbit doesn’t matter because you can’t change them. But you can change farming practices. It’s either adapt or pack up the truck and leave.

This is what happnned in Oz last time it got really cool…

June 16, 2020 9:23 pm

It does not take much to make an older person a sceptic. We have an 83 y/o neighbour who gets all her news from the MSM. Just pointing out how it was in the 1980’s, for example, has her questioning what the TV says. Its the young who have not seen weather that are the fodder for the MSM narative.

Ian McClintock
June 16, 2020 9:23 pm

I became one of this sceptical community simply by learning about the relevant science, a subject carefully avoided and never discussed by the climate change believer literati.

If they had bothered to do the same, they would quickly find that the principal dominating greenhouse gas is water vapour and that carbon dioxide is only a minor bit player.

It is effectively active over only a minor radiation spike centred on 14.9 microns in the electro-magnetic range of Earths outgoing radiation spectrum.

This area is also covered by the very much higher concentration of water vapour present, severely limiting any additional restriction on infra-red radiation emissions by carbon dioxide.

A careful reading of the current IPCC AR5 Report would also reveal, hidden in the main text of the Report, that man’s addition to the current level of atmospheric greenhouse gasses from burning fossil fuels is just 3.8% with a further .5% from land use change.

95.7% of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is from natural sources.

It is no wonder that this is never discussed as it immediately highlights the ridiculous impossibility of the nonsensical claims being made about man’s influence on our climate.

Chris Hanley
June 16, 2020 9:41 pm

A poorly written and trivial piece from part-taxpayer-funded The Conversation that purports to be an authoritative and academically-based source of information.
Taxpayer-funded Drs Caroline and Sora from the University of Canberra (QS World 484), not to be confused with the ANU (QS World =29), are both doctors of communication, Caroline having previously been employed by the tax-payer-funded ABC and by a tax-payer-funded Labor politician.
Any piece containing the terms ‘climate change deniers’ and ‘telling the climate change story’ ought not be taken seriously.
The final paragraphs lapse into ‘nosisms’, the editorial ‘we’, pluralis excellentiae or pluralis modestiae, it’s hard to say.

June 16, 2020 9:45 pm

I reckon 85% of rural AU couldn’t give a toss about ”climate change” as city people understand it. Weather – that’s another matter….

J Mac
Reply to  Mike
June 17, 2020 11:08 am

Your hypothesis fits the US citizenry equally well!

June 16, 2020 9:50 pm

”The study authors dismiss rural skepticism as being due to the older rural demographic”

Typical city navel gazing.

Tom Gelsthorpe
Reply to  Mike
June 17, 2020 2:41 am

Please report your CAPITALIZED WARNING often. Computers are swell gizmos, but don’t tell as much as city people think.

I’m part of an “older rural demographic,” and a career farmer from 1971 – 2004 on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. I’ve lived through the ice age scare, the global warming scale, now the amorphous climate change” scare, the impending self-immolation by nuclear war, civilian nuclear power, drastic pollution, “Silent Spring” type mass extinctions, famine scares, cancer epidemics, and a dozen other doomsday scenarios.

NONE OF THEM have come to pass. None! They’re mostly media-generated panics based on scant data that look REALLY, REALLY AWFUL if you run the graph lines off the edge of the page into an imagined future where nothing ever self-corrects.

One example of an absurd diversion of fear from local reality: Environmentalists have been handwringing about the annihilation of wildlife since Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” came out in 1962. In the meantime, songbirds have done fine; also large birds like geese, hawks, and swans (which are an invasive exotic from Europe.) Large pinnipeds, especially gray seals, have multiplied on the Outer Cape beaches from negligible numbers in the 1970s to over 35,000 at present.

Gray seals weigh about 700 pounds. The total weight of gray seals on the six Lower Cape towns from Chatham to Provincetown is greater than the total human weight, even in summer when it’s crowded with human visitors. Grey seals have been proliferating by feeding on supposedly dwindling fish. Grey seals and harbor seals are the favorite foods of Great White Sharks (like the one in the horror movie JAWS that made nearby Martha’s Vineyard famous).

Every so often a shark attacks a person; one victim died a couple of years ago for the first shark death in New England since 1936 — a death my father witnessed when he was a boy.

Local media have been crammed with shark news for two years. The chances of dying in an auto accident, or choking on food is MUCH LARGER than getting eaten by a shark. The chance of being murdered by a “fascist” is negligible because there are no self-proclaimed fascists around here; it’s only an epithet used by media to tar people they don’t like. Media exploit “fascism” as a clear and present danger.

Why? Because MEDIA LOVE HORROR STORIES. They don’t care about statistics. Statistics are boring, unless you’re a scientist. However, if you study the statistics and conclude we’re not facing doomsday, media will excoriate you for being “anti-science.”

Go figure.

James Francisco
Reply to  Tom Gelsthorpe
June 17, 2020 11:30 am

Great comment Tom, except for the dwindling fish part. I’m sure that the fish are dwindling all over the world because when I went fishing on a local Indianapolis water supply reservoir, I didn’t catch anything but a tree limb. It surely wasn’t due to my fishing skill because I have read books about fishing.

Robert Keon
June 16, 2020 9:55 pm

“15% don’t pay any attention to news about climate change; this is higher in regional areas (21%)”
However sceptics do pay attention to climate change news in order to give it due consideration. Hence the 21% figure doesn’t include climate sceptics. My reading of rural Australia is that well over 50% are either not interested in or sceptical of climate science and their useless models.

June 16, 2020 10:19 pm

Most people believe what they are told on the TV and in the media. They really havent worked out yet that there is always an agenda.

June 16, 2020 11:19 pm

They are dreaming of they think its only 21%. Wasnt the last election help up to be the climate election? didnt Labor (the Dems in Oz) go large on climate? just quietly ignore that , like anything else that goes off narrative.

June 17, 2020 12:34 am

Australia has a large agriculture industry which is highly efficient by world standards and so run by experts. These people often have their own very long term weather records, and their livelihoods depend on how they operate in the context of the weather. Many have concluded that climate change is exaggerated.
Secondly mining is a major industry in Australia, so there are thousands of professional geologists, petrophysicists and mining engineers who are highly mathematical and analytical in dealing with complex risky operations. Many of these people have also looked closely at climate science and are not convinced it is a significant issue.
Add these two private enterprise groups to all the others with analytical skills in other fields ranging from veterinary science to computer science and that pretty much explains why so many people are not convinced.
Most climate change believers do not have the necessary analytical skills, and/or their income is from the taxpayer.

Reply to  MACK
June 17, 2020 4:43 am

any old inherited farms have the full rainfall and sowing dates/harvest dates and yield all kept in the carried everywhere pocketbooks and copied to farmbooks
orlocal paper decidedto runsome early settler family letters and records dating back to 800s
it started with a bang
and ended in about 3 editions
because the tempsrecorded were higher and at both earlier n later dates in spring and autumn
as well as low rains/or flooding giving sheep fleece and fotrot(we still have many areas where footbaths are found round shearing sheds toxic soils from the water overflows etc
our lady ed is a screaming green socialist;-(((
i queried her claimed “research” on fires and agw
oh deep she was
f*ck you over book was her info source

June 17, 2020 12:48 am

The bit that particularly caught my eye was this:
-” younger people are much more interested in news about climate change than other news”-
and I thought what a truly lucky country Australia is if that is the main concern or interest of young people .
Back in England when I was “young” the priority was finding a job commensurate with qualifications, or indeed any job given the dire economic news of the Heath- Wilson – Callaghan era , finding decent housing with limited capital for mortgage at a time when, according to the BBC news and the papers, house prices near London were escalating faster than our accumulation of capital, and all the usual problems of finding nurseries and schools.
I conclude that the young people of Australia today enjoy unlimited careers prospects , can produce enough money to live where they want to and the state provides brilliant free education from nursery to university. No wonder they consider climate change the most important news . They need something to worry about lest their brains atrophy in this age of plenty.
(Incidentally checking with a UN source some time ago I found that the mean DISPOSABLE income for Australians was as large as the mean TOTAL income for Britons . No wonder that , for example electricity prices in Australia, increasing with the move to renewables , are not a source of discontent) .

Reply to  mikewaite
June 17, 2020 4:50 am

mate a lucky few get high wages and fulltime work
most are now on casual n parttime to keep employers costs down(super and indurances etc)
but the young here DO think theyre hard done by if a first job outta Uni is 50k
one young 1st yr teacher was moaning at her low wages for her hard work
id have sent her to fruit picking or production lines where the works hard and fast and the wages half what shes bitching about.
and ps we are NOT content with high power costs
but since govt privatised waht our taxes paid for long ago, were stuffed and have no options
smart meters and green power has our service fees at 1/3 of the power used and 29c kwh isnt unusual for those to stupid to hunt better deals or use off peak times.

Ed Zuiderwijk
June 17, 2020 2:39 am

‘Younger people are more interested in news about climate change than in other news’.

I predict a massive increase in withdrawal symptoms when they realise that they’ve been told porkies. Great times for shrinks are looming!

June 17, 2020 3:04 am

Good information for insurance companies – So many younger rural people rely on climate change to protect themselves from bush fires. Maybe they will learn from history instead of the green left weekly and save themselves paying higher insurance costs.

June 17, 2020 5:48 am

Older people have more to lose from climate change policy antics and related con games than young people. For the young, media contrivances do not stick but for the older citizens these are another risk to add to their compiled (learned) risk set over the years.

June 17, 2020 5:50 am

Older people have more decades of learning and watching predictions of the future fail.

In addition, most older people like warmer weather.

Here in Michigan USA, some older people buy winter homes in southern states, or spend winters in their Forida condos, if they can afford to … Or they just move to a southern state after they retire.

For vacations, warm climates are the rule, except for skiing vacations.

Some of the richest Americans build mansions on the seashore, not fearing sea level rise.

The real debate should be why anyone with sense would fear the planet getting a degree or two warmer … Especially when the warming least affects areas that were already warm.

Warmer winter nights in Alaska are not an existential crisis — they are good news.

Ian MacCulloch
June 17, 2020 7:49 am

Greta Thunberg is of course, named after the Greta Coal Measures found in the northern coalfields near Newcastle, NSW

June 17, 2020 11:02 am

Any article that uses the word “denier” to refer to skeptics and scientists who are in disagreement with the information isn’t worth wasting time reading. These folks don’t want an honest debate, they have made up their minds at the alter of their new religion and everyone who disagrees is a blasphemer who shall be shunned.

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