Denial Campaign's Success Evident in Two New Polls

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New polls in the U.S. and in the U.K. show a continuing collapse in public conviction that climate change is a serious and urgent issue - a result that can only be interpreted as an unprecedented measure of success for the campaign to deny global warming.

A poll by Anthony Leiserowitz Climate Project at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies shows that the number of people who are “dismissive” of climate change has doubled and the number of people who are “alarmed” has dropped by half in the last two years.

The Guardian reported that an IPSOS Mori poll shows the number of Britons who believe that climate change is “definitely” a reality has dropped 30 per cent, from 44 per cent to 31 during the last year.

Such results demand that we look back over the past year to figure out what’s causing these huge shifts in public opinion. It can’t be the scientific evidence, which by virtually every measure gets more alarming by the day. Ice is retreating in the Arctic and the Antarctic. An unprecedented drought persists across southern Australia, the global average temperatures continue to edge dangerously higher, and other wierd weather seems to persist everywhere.

Thus, the change in the public conversation must be tracked back to the pointed and persistent attacks on the scientists who work in the climate change field. Whether they are mischievous hobbyists or paid lobbyists, a large and suspiciously well-funded group of climate change deniers have been having a field day - with the stolen East Anglia emails and with a small number of actual (and embarrassing) errors in the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This is a worrisome triumph of spin over science. People who doubt it need to take more care in what they read. People who want to do something about it - all of us really - need to work harder to correct this distorted, perverted - frankly stolen - public conversation.

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This is my first posting here, as I have come to this site via your book “Climate Cover-Up”.
In a nutshell you have put into words all of my thoughts regarding what I call Corporate World, and how they are trying to advantage their position at the cost of sound science. The old smoke and mirrors, bait and switch.

I digress , this new data is worrisome, just a thought, from what I have been listening to in the last year in southern Ontario, most people are more concerned with the state of our economic condition than with the climate. Could this have some basis for the changing data?

I haven’t any proof, other than some website like “” “” where the general consensus is that we are being manipulated by the right.

I think there are several things contributing to the public’s collapse in trust in both scientists and their belief the CC is happening:

Mischief - the sceptics attack on science and the the East Anglia email leaks

It’s cold - people in the US and UK see record snowfalls and judge long term trends by what they see outside their windows

Disappointment - for many , Copenhagen was a failure. In many ways it’s easier to hope CC is a myth, then deal with the implications of our failure to reach agreement.

At present I am surrounded by sceptics: family members, work mates etc. The deniers are having an impact, it can’t be denied.

I’m in Australia, where the debate is just as intense as elsewhere. DeSmogBlog is one of the best sites discussing how sceptics operate: indeed, it’s inspired to create a blog monitoring the sceptics in the Australian media:

I’m hoping to help fight the campaign of misinformation any way I can. I’m not affiliated with any political party or NGO. I’m simply horrified at the success of the deniers.

We have to remember what prompted acceptance of global warming: Hurrican Katrina, and Al Gore’s movie. Since then, it’s been a case of relentless attacks from bloggers and talk radio denigrating the discussion, and persuading people to return to the default position of “why worry, it’s not something that will happen in my lifetime” etc.

You have done a great job of exposing the financial relationships and spurious qualifications of the deniers. But we have to accept that sober scientific statements, or even detailed rebuttals of denier positions, haven’t moved public opinion, but only served as damage control.

Let’s return to Katrina and Gore: Big visuals. That’s what the public gets these days, including the educated ones. We need a movie, a much better one than An Inconvenient Truth, with Hollywood production values and geared to a mass audience. That means it has to be entertaining and inspired, as the best movies are. Someone needs to step up with the cash, since the studios have too many banking and fossil fuel relationships, albeit indirect. Any volunteers out there?

The spin is hard to fight when the public do not (or will not) look at the big picture, they only look out their front door and form an opinion, which would be affected by all the snow they’ve gotten through the mid west and eastern states. They think global warming is simply warmer and warmer weather, but it’s not that easy to box.
I’m not a scientist, but i look at it this way;
Global warming = Climate change = Extreme weather, from floods to snow storms to drought, Mother Nature’s getting pissed and she is just getting started, you know that saying about a woman scorned…

What’s the opinion polls in Australia say?

Or how about Madeira, Portugal?

Richard Littlemore,

Making false statements ruins your case.

The minimum Arctic ice coverage did diminish until September 2007. Since then it has been increasing.

The Antarctic ice has not been retreating. The changes over the last 30 years have not been statistically significant. OK, maybe a small increase.

If you disagree with the above statements, show me your evidence. My evidence comes from satellite measurements analysed by the University of Illinois.

In that All climate change is a serious and urgent issue.Plan comes at a time when public conviction about the threat of climate change has declined.

While I am entirely persuaded that spin has been an enormous factor in changing public perceptions, we ought to not ignore two others that have probably also played a significant role: (a) the unusual amounts of snow in the UK and parts of the US (which, of course, was predicted in a world with more evaporation from warmer oceans, but that is a little complex for most people) and (b) the economic outlook (which, when combined with the climate change discussion being framed as an “environmental” issue, then economy trumps environment).

Keep up the good work.