Monday, June 22, 2009

Forty percent of Americans say global warming is not caused by humans: I was surprised to see this at Rasmussion Reports:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% of U.S. voters now believe human activity is the cause of global warming, while 40% say it is caused by long-term planetary trends.

How is it that so many doubt man-caused warming? Do right-wingers and evangelicals have that much influence? The opinion is certainly correlated with political orientation:

Republicans by nearly three-to-one say global warming is caused by planetary trends, while Democrats believe human activity is to blame by the same margin. Voters not affiliated with either party are almost evenly divided on the question.

To avoid teeing it up for someone, let me anticipate: Yes, we know that conservatives are stupid.


  1. Half Sigma is very vocal about his skepticism regarding man-made global warming.

  2. Do right-wingers and evangelicals have that much influence?

    My guess is, not quite. It's just that right-wing thing can come naturally to people on certain issues. By right-wing thinking, I actually mean classical liberal thinking - the idea that government exists only to protect us from each other, not to protect us from ourselves or the weather.

    I think the average voter likes to have government protecting us from ourselves but hasn't quite moved to a government that tries to protect us from the weather, or protect the weather from us. It's too abstract, seems too unlikely. This is probably a good thing because IMHO global temperature change is probably not caused by humans, but if it were, the average voter probably would still not believe it.

    The experiment would be easy. Randomly select two groups for a quick education session - 90 minutes of work. One group is exposed to a bunch of silly rumors about AGW and a scholarly, peer-reviewed study saying it is likely to be true; the other is exposed to the same silly rumors and a fine studying saying the opposite. Hypothesis: the varying stimuli have very little effect on public opinion data.

  3. Anonymous8:07 AM

    Democrats believe in it because it fits in with their worldview of a problem that can only be solved through massive government intervention. This is the same reason they were desperate to stop "global cooling" 30 years ago.

    The fact is that Earth's temperature's have not increased in lockstep with our carbon dioxide emissions, which should disprove that hypothesis. Furthermore, all the temperature gains from the 90's (a whole 1 degree on average) have been lost in this decade.

  4. There has to be a word in the actuarial lexicon for the conflict between Reality and Rhetoric here here:

    Reality: We don't know that X is a problem but we can't afford for X to be a problem, so we are willing to invest Y to reduce the likelihood that X is a problem.

    Rhetoric: Since we don't know that X is a problem, it is wrong to invest anything in reducing the likelihood that X is a problem even though we can't afford for X to be a problem.

    This has applications in _all_ areas of social policy.

  5. There's a combination of a posteriori reasoning and false dilemma going on here. Unless one has dug into the economic arguments (or, say, read Cool It by Bjorn Lomborg), one is faced with two widely acknowledged alternatives: GW is A, and therefore we must take extreme, economy-destroying measures to combat it, or GW is not A, and therefore we can't do anything about it.

    Neither syllogism is true, so therefore, there's nothing really wrong with reasoning backwards from one's preferred outcomes, except that it's not actually reasoning.

  6. Anonymous2:23 PM

    The honest truth which, I suspect, everyone will hate, is that probably less that 1% of people have the knowledge and reason to understand these climate issues. The other 99% made a decision based on a combination of emotion, affiliation, self interest, and reason based on the facts that they could understand. Most people don't want to admit that they could not accurately explain the factors involved in these climate issues if they had to to save their lives. Since this is anonymous, I have the luxury of telling the truth. I have no damned idea which position to take. I do not have enough info to judge. 99% of people don't either, most just are not going to say so. As with any change in policy, there will be winners and losers. That makes me nervous, since I am confident that I will be paying for any remediation and will not be benefitting from it financially.

  7. There is a nice Climate Debate section in the Favorites section of Arts and Letters Daily. Here is piece on the skeptical side I found intriguing, called The Thermostat Hypothesis:

  8. Boogliodemus7:40 AM

    It's not about climate. It's about who has money and who doesn't.

  9. Anonymous12:23 AM

    Climate scientists are not trustworthy. Their mathematical hocus-pocus is pushed because that is what the government pays for.

    Climate-scientists have no possible private-sector employment because no private business needs their skills or services. Heck, I doubt CS's are even employable in agricultural where they would actually be useful. Therefore, they are hostage to the needs of their employer: government. They will provide to the government whatever propaganda it wants.

    Besides, you are far more likely to get killed by another desperate person in an economic downturn than you are to get killed by the weather.

  10. sabril6:13 AM

    I've studied the issues very carefully and satisfied myself that "global warming" as popularly understood is a hoax.

    That said, even without a lot of study I would be skeptical. Why? Because I'm old enough to know the red flags of BS.

    When somebody says "The world is coming to an end! The world is coming to an end! Give me your wallet, quick!" the smart money is that it's bullshit.

  11. Anonymous1:50 PM

    As an environmentalist, I'm very upset that this "climate change" hysteria has drawn action and attention away from serious and immediate problems, like habitat destruction and water pollution.

    I feel like armchair enviro-snobs have hijacked the cause, and turned it from a grassroots traditionalist conservation movement into a jihad against industry.


The Inductivist admits that culture matters

A pure naturist would claim that the culture of East Asians would not change after moving to America. Let's test this with one question ...