Global warming quantitative analysis

The survey provides a deep insight into how people view the global warming issue. We first asked questions to ascertain whether respondents thought that CO2 was a greenhouse gas, whether they thought man's production of it was causing climate change, and whether they thought there was an unacceptable risk of catastrophic climate change.

When asked whether increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere will increase earth's temperature, 62% agreed, 23% disagreed while 15% neither agreed nor disagreed or were unsure. Effectively less than two-thirds of Australians believe or are sure that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

The next question tried to determine how many believe that man's emissions of CO2 are having an effect on the environment. In this case 58% agreed that they are while 28% disagreed.

The third proposition asked the "so what" question. Do "increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere pose an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic change in earth's temperature in the future?" In this case 55% agreed with the proposition while 31% opposed it.

When the data was further dissected it became clear that voting intentions were highly predictive of belief or skepticism of catastrophic global warming. 93% of Greens believe that there is a risk of CO2 induced catastrophe, compared to 82% of Labor voters, 17% of Liberals and 5% of Nationals. (Table figures are slightly different to those above because minor parties are not represented in the dissection.)


Age was also a factor in whether respondents believe there is a significant risk of catastrophe.


Income was mixed. Those earning $75,000 p.a. or more were less likely than average to believe in a potential catastrophe, as were those earning $35,000 p.a. or less.

The controversy over whether there is a scientific consensus was also partially resolved by this research. 72% of scientists agree that there is an unacceptable risk of catastrophe.

There was also an industry split with those in Wholesale Trade least likely to see an unacceptable catastrophe coming (64%), followed by Mining (58%), and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (49%). Educators (75%) were the most likely to see the risk of catastrophe as unacceptable.

Attitudes to the CPRS varied in some significant respects to what might be expected given the figures above. Only 40% support the CPRS while 42% oppose it. Strongest support comes from Labor voters (70%). Only 42% of Greens support it, 5% of Liberals and 2% of Nationals. This means that a significant number of those who believe there is an unacceptable risk of catastrophe do not support a CPRS.

The same holds true for the issue of whether to delay legislation until after the Copenhagen Summit. 46% of respondents believe it should be delayed.

The two tables below dissect these two propositions. 13% of those who strongly believe there is a a risk of catastrophe oppose the CPRS, and 22% support delaying the legislation until after Copenhagen.



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0 #1 CommentGeoff Dawson 2009-10-24 22:59
Finally the public start to wake up to the con.
0 #2 CommentMichaelC 2009-10-26 10:06
I agree with Geoff - biggest con by UN/IPCC and finance industry for control and fat profits from trading air. Global temperatures have been falling for a decade and burning all fossil fuel would warm us by only 0.6DegC. People are catching on rapidly and the ETS scheme will surely collapse...and there will be no money for rescues.
0 #3 CommentGraham Edward Young 2009-11-02 00:31

Hi Nick, fair point about the wording. It should have been "the CPRS" not "a CPRS". To make analysis of these questionnaires manageable in the time available I didn't ask a full range of qual questions, so we're not exactly sure what the points of difference are on the CPRS. I'd expect from other work that many Greens voters would object to either the size of the targets or the collection mechanism. But that is just a guess, and therefore not as rigorous as the polling.

So what is your position? What would the CPRS need to have to be acceptable to you? In an ideal world would you prefer another mechanism to the CPRS? If so what would it be.

We can tease some of these issues out on the blog if you are prepared to put in some time.

Thanks for pointing my error out.

0 #4 CommentNick Yates 2009-11-09 20:24


I take issue with your statement that "a significant number of those who believe there is an unacceptable risk of catastrophe do not support a CPRS."

The way the survey was constructed, from my memory, asked questions about one specific CPRS, i.e. the Labor party's proposed one. There is a big difference between ruling out any CPRS and not supporting Labor's proposed CPRS. I was one of those Green voters who did not support Labor's proposed CPRS, but would certainly support one that actually reduced GHG emissions and encouraged polluters to change their behaviour, rather than showering them with cash and free permits.

I think Greens, Liberal and National voters all have very different reasons for not supporting the CPRS, and your survey misses what would be some very interesting data this by lumping them all together.