Wednesday 29th January 2020

Climate Change Skeptics

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The general public are the great global warming sceptics

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Not only most people do not believe in the official theory of man-made global warming and proposed course of action, but also the number of the skeptics is on the rise.

In America, polls conducted by Rasmussen Reports showed that in April 2008 47% of the public believed that global warming is primarily caused by human activity, whereas only 40% thought that in 2011; conversely, in 2008 34% said that global warming is primarily caused by long-term planetary trends, but in 2011 that percentage increased to 44%. In addition, Americans did not blame climate change for harsh winter weather and blizzards.

This confirms and continues the trend already shown by a Pew research documenting a sharp decline from 2008 to 2009 in the percentage of the American public who think there is solid evidence that the earth is warming: from 71 percent in 2008 to 57 percent in 2009. Of those who believe in global warming, 47 percent attributed it to human activity in 2008, but only 36 percent a year later. Besides, fewer Americans considered global warming as a very serious problem: 44 percent in 2008, down to 35 percent in 2009.

That the American public has not bought into the man-caused global warming theory can also be seen from the fact that President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union Address, mentioned "the overwhelming evidence on climate change", but then hastened to add "even if you doubt the evidence": hardly overwhelming then.

In the UK, the number of people who do not believe in climate change has doubled in the last few years, according to an Office for National Statistics poll: the number of Brits who say they are unconvinced rose from 12 per cent to 23 per cent from 2006 to 2010. Some view this phenomenon as an alarming trend away from science; others as the British public's common sense letting them see clearly the lack of foundation in the climate alarmists' claims.

The Office for National Statistics survey compared levels of acceptance of man-caused global warming since 2006. In that year 87 per cent of British people were at least 'fairly convinced' that the earth's climate was changing, whereas in 2010 that share had significantly fallen to 75 per cent. All this despite the amount of climate change propaganda and huge campaigns to "raise awareness".

Still in the UK, The Times newspaper commissioned an opinion poll conducted by Populus in November 2009, just before the UN Copenhagen climate change summit of 7-18 December 2009.

In February 2010, shortly after the Copenhagen Summit, another Populus poll was carried out, this time for the BBC. In this second survey, only 26 percent responded that climate change is happening and is now largely established as man-made; in November 2009 they were 41 percent. Furthermore, 38 percent of those questioned believed that climate change is happening, but not yet proven to be largely man-made; the corresponding percentage for that answer in November 2009 was 32 per cent. Another 25 percent in the February 2010 poll thought that global warming was not happening at all; the corresponding figure in November 2009 was 15 per cent.

Even among those who believed that climate change was happening, 1 in 3 people thought that the potential consequences of living in a warming world had been exaggerated; the corresponding figure in November 2009 had been 1 in 5 people. Viceversa, the percentage of the British public who thought that the risks of climate change had been understated decreased from 38 percent in November 2009 to 25 percent in February 2010.

Sobering results comparing opinion polls before and after a major international summit on climate change. It seems that the Copenhagen summit had made people more skeptical.


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Why have people become more climate change sceptic?

This leads us to the causes of this increased scepticism in recent years. It seems no coincidence that the period between the two UK Populus polls described above has seen some remarkable events.

In November 2009, the Climategate. Contents of leaked emails from East Anglia University's Climate Research Unit, a leading climate science centre in Norwich, UK, resulted in accusations that researchers had manipulated data. The emails appeared to show top climate scientists plotting to destroy data, distorting research, conspiring against publication of dissenting views. The British government concluded that the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit had violated Britain's Freedom of Information Act, although it was too late for prosecution. The CRU has been an important source of data for the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which for over 20 years has been issuing warnings about global warming.

In December 2009, Copenhagen summit on climate change ended in a dramatic failure to reach a consensus among the delegates, which in turn led to a depressed disappointment in the environmental and conservationist movements. The effect on the general public may have been the conclusion that, if world leaders could not find an agreement, maybe the problem was not so urgent and the situation not so catastrophic as it had been portrayed.

In January 2010, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientific body set up in 1988 by the United Nations that is the world's most authoritative voice claiming the reality and the dangers of man-caused global warming, admitted that it had made an error in predicting that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 due to climate change.

Apparently that prediction was based entirely on a 2005 World Wildlife Federation pamphlet lacking scientific foundation. In addition, the chairman of the IPCC had been informed that a 1996 report stated that those glaciers could melt by 2350, not 2035, but he did not amend the claim. In the Telegraph newspaper, investigative author Christopher Booker wrote:

"A Canadian analyst has identified more than 20 passages in the IPCC's report which cite similarly non-peer-reviewed WWF or Greenpeace reports as their authority, and other researchers have been uncovering a host of similarly dubious claims and attributions all through the report. These range from groundless allegations about the increased frequency of 'extreme weather events' such as hurricanes, droughts and heatwaves, to a headline claim that global warming would put billions of people at the mercy of water shortages – when the study cited as its authority indicated exactly the opposite, that rising temperatures could increase the supply of water. ...the warmist cause itself. Bereft of scientific or moral authority, the most expensive show the world has ever seen may soon be nearing its end. "

As an echo to this, Walter Russell Mead, of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in early 2010 in The American Interest:

"The global warming movement as we have known it is dead. Its health had been in steady decline during the last year as the once robust hopes for a strong and legally binding treaty to be agreed upon at the Copenhagen Summit faded away. By the time that summit opened, campaigners were reduced to hoping for a 'politically binding' agreement to be agreed that would set the stage for the rapid adoption of the legally binding treaty. After the failure of the summit to agree to even that much, the movement went into a rapid decline. The movement died from two causes: bad science and bad politics."

If we really want to drive the knife even deeper, we can add Amazongate, uncovered by another investigative author, Richard North. In its 2007 report the IPCC made a remarkable claim that climate change could endanger "up to 40 per cent" of the Amazon rainforests, again quoting a World Wildlife Federation report as its source. The authors of this report claimed that their findings were based on an article in the prestigious scientific journal Nature. But alas, the Nature article was not at all about global warming but was exploring the effects of logging.

Moreover, another factor in the rise of global warming skepticism is that recent winters have been particularly cold, especially the 2009-2010 winter, with much of the northern hemisphere being affected by a long period of record sub-zero temperatures.


Enza FerreriEnza Ferreri is an Italian web author with a degree in Philosophy of Science living in London, and former journalist.



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