After the email leaking at the University of East Anglia’s climate change unit there were some polls on climate change, but an annoying lack of any questions that were directly comparable to ones asked before the email leak that we could use to see if it had actually changed the public’s view on climate change. I always thought was a particular shame that Populus didn’t re-ask the series of questions on climate change they’d asked for the Times just before the email leak.

Three months down the line the BBC have commissioned Populus to do just that, and it suggests a significant decrease in the proportion of the British public who believe in climate change. In November 83% of respondents thought that “the Earth’s climate is changing and global warming taking place”, with only 15% disagreeing. That has now changed to 75% agreeing and 25% disagreeing.

Amongst those who do believe that climate change is happening, there is increased doubt that it is man made. Overall the proportion of people who think that it is an established scientific fact that climate change is largely man made has dropped from 41% to 26%, the proportion who think it is yet to be proved has grown from 32% to 38%.

Since the November poll we’ve seen not just the UEA email leak, but a reverse in the IPCC’s predictions about ice in the Hymalayas and a very cold winter. The impact of that last one shouldn’t be ignored at the expense of the more obvious stories about climate change scientists – 83% of respondents said they had recalled hearing stories in the news about winter having been the coldest ever, whereas 57% recalled hearing stories about flaws or weaknesses in the science of climate change. Of those 57%, the majority (73%) said this did not change their option, or had strengthened their conviction in the risks of climate change (16%), 11% said it had made them less convinced.

79 Responses to “Populus poll on climate change”

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  1. Colin

    I would reply – but Anthony doesn’t like partisan posts – or those which respond to wind ups.

    Feel free to post on “Blether with Brian” (BBC blog) and I’ll be happy to respond there. :-)

  2. OLD NAT

    It’s not a wind up -believe me . My opinions on the topic are deeply held & I do what I can in a small way in retirement to mitigate the effects of policies like those .

    Partisan?-I don’t understand.

    I asked you which “elites” were responsible for those decisions?
    I didn’t ask you to try and justify them??

  3. Colin,

    You seem to be a bit confused tonight.

    Oldnat says she doesn’t trust the elite and you ask her to explain why by citing two cases where the politicians have made controversial decisions.

    Just because they were made by his preferred party doesn’t always make them right and you can be sceptical about politicians and still support and indeed be a member of a political party.

    just for the record. I think the Trump golf courses can be built and work with minimal damage and like many links courses in Scotland over decades they will do more to protect the coastal habitat than damage it.

    I don’t like his tactics or the housing developments that go with it but Ironically if another developer had gone for the purely speculative housing an not the golf courses they would probably have got it without this fuss and the housing will be more of a blight than the golf courses.

    As to Beauly-Denny its a mixed blessing but on balance i am for it. at 60m the pylons are big but there are fewer of them and the more or less follow a line of pylons that have been their for decades.

    It will allow up to 5o renewables schemes, wind and wave on and off shore to come on stream and that could potentially produce two thirds of Scotland’s electricity. Given that that will let us replace two coal and two nuclear power station close to where 4 million Scots live while the new power line will only be seen by a handful of the quarter of a million people in the Highlands its a price worth paying.

    I’d have liked more undergrounding and a bit less in the national park but to be honest I think the nicest part of the park is the pine forests near Loch Morlich where you can’t see more than 100 yards anyway and if you want the best scenery go to the West coast to Suliven or down to Glen Coe.

    We will see a lot more wind farms in Scotland in the next decade and I hope as much will be in places like the Campsies and the Ochills as the Highlands but there will still be more unspoilt scenery in Scotland at the end of it than the rest of the UK put together.


  4. Peter

    I was just interested-OLD NAT dislikes “elites” & doesn’t trust them.

    Amber, OLDNAT & I were talking about adverse environmental impacts.

    To my mind the two pieces of environmental damage , which I quoted-were examples of the influence of such elites on government.

    They are both in Scotland-hence my question to OLDNAT

    I already know your views on these topics Peter.

  5. @Jack asks

    “What happens if the climate change people are wrong? Nothing; we have a few more windmills.”

    Simplistic and incorrect. Unlike in left-wing fantasies, there is no infinite pot of money, for do-gooders to spend on their idiocy of the day. If you spend the money on windmills, you cannot spend the same money elsewhere (for example, on combatting malaria, or stopping land degradation).

    So yes, you can build your windmills. But if you do, and climate change was a fantasy created by flawed theories and dubious statistics, then along with taking responsibiity for those windmills, you also take responsibility for the faiure to address other urgent problems because you wasted money on the windmills.

    Along with your “few more windmills” you might also have responsibiity for a million malaria deaths or 20000 sq. miles of desertification (current annual rates). If windmills are economic, then they will be built without any tax subsidy or legal obligation. If they are not economic, then, by advocating that the goverment dictates that they are built, then you are making a choice, and carry the responsibility for the consequences of that choice.

  6. Right back at the top ALEC said ” “but a reverse in the IPCC’s predictions about ice in the Hymalayas” is potentially a little misleading. The IPCC have not reversed a prediction – they withdrew one statistic that was flawed in its time scale on one glacier.”

    In fact what happened was an off-hand comment over the phone to a journalist (since withdrawn) was presented as scientific fact in AR4 and (knowing this) the head of the IPCC repeated it to delegates at Copenhagen. This is why Greenpeace among others have called for his resignation.

    The public, apparently, are sophisticated enough not to let such things influence their view of scientists or science in general.

  7. Colin

    Since Anthony doesn’t object (or at least is busy elsewhere!) I’ll answer.

    My comment wasn’t as crude as talking about “environmental damage”, I was agreeing with Amber Star’s “most of the wealthy elite who deny it have the same commercial interests as those turned rivers into sewers & caused smog/ pollution that harmed millions of people.”

    To convert a distributive power line to one which allows the gathering of green energy, will help not harm people – oh, except those that simply want to see the Highlands as an area where they can enjoy the current man made environment, as opposed to the future man made environment.

    Fewer, but bigger pylons – more visually intrusive, perhaps, let’s wait and see how much more.

    A golf course on sand dunes! How dreadful! I was brought up playing golf on the Fraserburgh and Cruden Bay courses (amongst others).

    How about improving the environment by removing human beings from the Thames Valley and letting it revert to nature? Thames Valley Syndrome is a rather unpleasant condition.

  8. Hi Colin, Old Nat & Peter

    I mis-trust Trump; he is the wealthy elitist type of which I speak.

    Governments should not have to rely on these types of schemes to provide housing, leisure facilities & jobs to their constituents. But they do.

    These capitalists will not site their projects in places where they are needed; they simply pick the spot that will generate highest demand at lowest cost to the developer. Governments without a tax & spend mandate have no alternatives to the take it or leave it attitude of the developers.

    Regarding the power lines; where is our choice as residents of Scotland to pay more taxes & have these cables below ground? This would partially protect the environment & create jobs.

  9. This is just sad, reminds me of the old pro-tobacco lobby.

  10. @ OLDNAT
    “A golf course on sand dunes! How dreadful!

    It is -have you seen what Portugal has done to it’s wild habitats & their wildlife-now it’s one big golf course?

    The Scottish Wildlife Trust objection will help you understand what Trump & the SNP have destroyed.You seem not to appreciate it.

    But maybe you prefer golf courses to wildlife.

    “How about improving the environment by removing human beings from the Thames Valley and letting it revert to nature?”

    I didn’t expect that from you OldNat-you have surprised me.

    The Thames valley is already b******d-though the development has -miraculously- retained the glorious North Kent Marsh habitats-and RSPB Rainham Marshes reserve-a gem in a suburban wilderness.

  11. @ AMBER
    “I mis-trust Trump; he is the wealthy elitist type of which I speak.”

    You were right

    “Governments should not have to rely on these types of schemes to provide housing, leisure facilities & jobs to their constituents. But they do.”

    Do they?
    THis isn’t lowcost starter homes Amber-its :-
    A 450-bedroom hotel
    A clubhouse
    A golf academy
    950 holiday homes
    36 golf villas

    The reason Scotland has it is because their government made this choice:-

    ” “The economic and social benefits for the North East of Scotland substantially outweigh any environmental impact.”
    Alex Salmond speaking Amber.

    Their choice
    I don’t agree with it.

  12. Colin

    My big problem with the conservationist lobby, is that they want to preserve the status quo – with all the huge advantages that human development has given to the “haves”. Hence my reference to the Thames Valley.

    If you want to prioritise balance within the environment, then you need to do that in a way that doesn’t just limit that to stopping any development. That should include cutting back the development of metropolitan centres – which have a huge economic as well as environmental downside.

    I don’t know about your golf courses – but there is a large variety of wildlife on mine, as there is on the verges and other wild areas by motorways.

  13. Colin,

    “Their choice, I don’t agree with it.”

    and an honest opinion. I don’t agree but I respect your views…..


    “where is our choice as residents of Scotland to pay more taxes & have these cables below ground? This would partially protect the environment & create jobs.”

    It would normally be to vote for the greens and if enough people do under PR then they would join someone, probably the SNP in government.

    However if I am correct they actually supported the building of the Beauly-denny line, although they would almost certainly want more of it underground… and higher electricity and fuel prices.


  14. @ Colin

    I completely disagree with this scheme too. The point I was trying to make is that governments seem powerless to offer alternatives.

    They either support schemes proposed by Trump & his ilk, or lose the economic benefits of constructing the houses, staffing the hotel & local shops selling stuff to the golf tourists it would allegedly attract.

    Why is there no credible alternative that would create sustainable jobs without this priceless coast being ‘stolen’ from us to enrich Trump & his investors?

  15. Hi Peter

    However if I am correct they actually supported the building of the Beauly-denny line, although they would almost certainly want more of it underground… and higher electricity and fuel prices.

    I’d prefer the nation to be owners of the means to generate & distribute power. Then it could be paid for by a combination of power charges & general taxes.

  16. @ Peter

    I’m expecting Anthony to moderate this… but if not:

    I don’t vote for the SNP because I instinctively mis-trust Alex Salmond. I’m a big fan of Nicola & my local SNP councillor is super (David Beckett) – but I can’t vote for Alex’s party. He seems smug & enthralled by the politics of politics – not the outcomes that could be achieved. Sorry; but that’s how I feel.

  17. “I don’t know about your golf courses – but there is a large variety of wildlife on mine”

    That tells me everything I need to know about your attitude to Menie Sands -or any other adverse Environmental Impact OLDNAT.

    “My big problem with the conservationist lobby, is that they want to preserve the status quo – ”

    Yet another sweeping & completely unfounded assertion to justify the development of anything anywhere.

    I tell you what my big problem is OLDNAT-It is people who pontificate about Anthropomorphic Global Warming as a “threat to the planet” and urge “green” policies on everyone-simply in order to retain & maintain their Anthropocentric Comfort Zone no matter what the cost to our environment-and if that cost impacts in someone elses country so much the better.

    These people aren’t trying to save” the environment”-they are trying to save their comfortable & voracious place in it at the cost of the environment-a word & concept which they fail utterly to understand.

  18. “this priceless coast”

    It is great to hear you describe it that way Amber.

    This is from SWT website:-

    “This highly sensitive and dynamic dune ecosystem is recognised as one of the top five dune habitats in the whole of the UK.

    The very high nature conservation value of this coastline is recognised at both a European (five priority European habitats are present) and national level (‘coastal sand dunes’ are listed as a priority habitat in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan). Indeed, the whole stretch of coastline hosts a rich assemblage of specially adapted higher and lower plants and other wildlife including a diverse breeding bird community and otters.”

  19. It’s thanks to flawed institutions like the IPCC and CRU, and flawed individuals like Gore and Pachauri, that people are rejecting the idea of climate change wholesale, instead of realising that the thing’s been happening for 4 billion years. Science has not been well-served by the Anthropogenic Climate Change conspiracy.

  20. Colin,

    “That tells me everything I need to know about your attitude to Menie Sands”

    That would be the Menie Sands that is 14 miles long and already has three golf course on it, two in the South at Aberdeen and one in the North.

    It’s a bit rich to criticise Oldnat and then give an Ecowarrior view of Menie as if has never been touched by human hands when it isn’t.

    You seem to support man made climate change and that we need to develop renewables but oppose developments that do that. No development is perfect and I’ve said I don’t like the housing part of the Trump proposals for housing but I am pretty sure that the final scheme for the golf courses will protect the vast majority of the dunes.

    Oddly enough if you look here you’ll see that along with Aberdeen with a 2m sea level rise most of this area will disappear anyway.;


    Not liking one politician isn’t really the most sophisticate reason for not supporting a political party, even if they are the leader.


  21. @ Peter

    I agree – it is very unsophisticated to avoid voting for a party because you dislike the leader; yet thousands will vote Cameron because they don’t like Brown.

    Lots of people will never vote Tory because Thatcher is their ’emblematic’ leader now. She isn’t even leader any more & it stops people voting Tory.

    So, however unsophisticated it is, that’s they way it goes in politics.

  22. Also lets let none of us forget that any of the proposed measures in the west to tackle this (completely unproven, alarmist pseudo-) crisis, such as cap&trade/ tax will NOT EVEN REDUCE CARBON OUTPUT it will only impose a tax and high energy prices on the consumer. And on top of this EVEN IF WE REDUCE CO2 OUTPUT TO ZERO IN THE WEST, CHINA & INDIA’S CO2 OUTPUT INCREASES WILL MORE THAN COMPENSATE FOR THIS.

    In other words we shouldn’t do anything, but even if we do it wont make any difference.

    This is pure politics, not science. This entire alarmist campaign (among others e.g. swine flu) is destroying the once great field of science. The politicisation of science is killing it.

  23. Jack

    “This discussion will make me vote Green if it keeps up…”

    The first political party to emerge was the Conservatives who looked after the landowner’ interest. Industrialisation created rich entrepreneurs who thought they deserved political power and the antecedents of the LibDems emerged next. Somewhat later, the extension of the francise to less wealthy householders and eventually to all – even women! – enabled the representation of the working class by the then socialist Labour party.

    Now many of the new large and international issues are the environmental ones and the Green party is expected to gain a seat even under FPTP, and is represented in mature European democracies such as Scotland with fit for purpose constitutional arrangements.

    In the long term maybe issues like those discussed here could result in enough people voting Green for them to become a party of government in the UK.

    In Scotland their representation was reduced (probably by AS for FM) but if they had remained at their former level they could easily have been in coalition with the SNP and then there would be no golf course built at Menie.

  24. I wonder what the result would have been if they had asked; “Can governments, whether local, national or international, regulate the world’s temperature through the tax system?”

  25. @ PETER
    “That would be the Menie Sands that is 14 miles long and already has three golf course on it,”

    So why another one then?
    How many golf courses do you need in Scotland-or even Grampian where there are already -what?-70

    And why in the process of building yet another golf course ( with attached luxury accomodation etc)
    destroy a SSSI and a unique 4000 year old dynamic sand dune system which is the fifth largest in the UK, and one of the last remaining in the world.?

    And in discounting the adverse effects on habitats and biodiversity which the Developer acknowledged, did AS include the additional car miles & air miles for all those well heeled international travellers to come visit TrumpTown, & the additional greenhouse gasses generated?

    And if designations like SSSI are there to protect environmentally sensitive & valued sites-why ignore them….and what are they worth in future to the Scottish administration?

  26. Frankly, until the head honchos of the environmentalist movement start talking about population control with some degree of sincerity and urgency, I find it hard to take them seriously.

    Carbon footprints are a per capita item. However much we reduce the average citizen’s footprint, doubling the total number of footprints every few decades is going to send us hurtling towards doom regardless.

  27. Birth rates in Europe are declining, and the people in countries with growing populations consume a lot less resources (including carbon) than people in the west.

    Better educated people with more life choices in those countries might help stem the birth rate, but people are understandably wary of state led population controls.

    Ending third world debt would be one easy step to aid sustainable developement in poorer regions of the world

  28. NEIL
    The major “green movement” organisations are in business to make sure that humans can continue unabated on the planet.
    They have no interest in controlling population-it’s not in their thinking at all.
    They talk of reducing consumption, when the most explosive population growth occurs in areas of poverty.
    They will never urge population control on people who have large families for cultural & economic reasons.

    It is indeed the problem for the planet.

    It will not be addressed-we will go to 9bn and beyond& the waves of migration from the areas of population growth ( Africa & Asia) to the areas of population decline ( Europe&* N America) will change everything we know & recognise.

  29. Green Greenie,

    Isn’t the point that Westerners use just about as much carbon as anyone could? We drive cars everywhere, shop in heated/airconditioned shops, leave our lights on all day and run TVs, DVD players and computers 24 hours, eat tons of meat etc..

    The real explosion in carbon use will come in the developing world with growing population, and consumption habits changing.

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