Opinion Poll: Canada's climate change consensus confronts Keystone

November 21, 2014 by William Raillant-Clark
Opinion Poll: Canada's climate change consensus confronts Keystone
Credit: Thinkstock

Despite the fact that 81% of Canadians accept that temperature on Earth is increasing, Université de Montréal researchers have revealed that Canadians are generally misinformed about the science of climate change and are divided over the construction of new oil pipelines. The researchers' study also found that 70% of Canadians perceive significant changes in weather where they live; 60% believe that weather in Canada has been getting more extreme; and 87% believe these changes are somewhat or very likely the consequence of a warming planet.

The nationally representative telephone survey interviewed 1401 adult Canadians during the month of October, yielding a margin of error of +/- 2.6% in 19 of 20 samples. The study, run concurrently with researchers at the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College in the US, highlights a stark contrast between the views of Canadians and Americans on the existence of and support for pipelines, yet remarkable convergence on perceptions of weather and climate-related knowledge.

Hardly opinions based in fact

80% of Canadians, versus 60% of Americans, believe there is solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has increased over the past four decades. This figure was significantly lower in Alberta (72%) and the Prairies (Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 60%.)

Of those who perceive an increase in temperature, 61% attribute the warming to human causes, compared to only 45% in the US. The figure was significantly higher in Quebec, at 71%, and significantly lower in Alberta, at 41%.

70% of Canadians perceive significant changes in weather patterns where they live, with 60% of Canadians perceive national weather is becoming more extreme, with highest figures in Ontario and on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. These figures were 58% and 68% respectively for Americans.

Extreme weather is either somewhat (40%) or very (47%) likely the result of global warming, according to 87% of Canadians (and 68% of Americans.) Moreover, 59% of Canadians believe climate change will begin to harm people living in Canada within the next 10 to 25 years. A plurality of Canadians (35%) believe it already is.

Finally, two out of three Canadians (67%) believe the government is either not too prepared (34%) or not at all prepared (33%) for the consequences of a warming planet

Despite all this, more Americans (35%) than Canadians (30%) know that methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, while 60% of Canadians (and 45% of Americans) believe that carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for the hole in the ozone layer.

Pipelines and politics

Canadians are more likely to oppose (44%) than support (36%) the Keystone XL energy pipeline, while 20% have a neutral opinion. The opposite is true on the other side of the border: the figures are 34%, 52% and 14%, respectively. However, support is highest among self-identified supporters of the federal Conservative Party of Canada (55%), mirroring the polarized situation in the United States, where 72% of Republicans support the project against 39% of Democrats.

Within Canada, support for Keystone XL was highest in Alberta (58%). At 50%, Trans Canada's Energy East project has greater support than Keystone XL, but opinions vary substantially across regions. At the high end, 68% of citizens in Alberta support the project, compared to a low of 33% of citizens in Quebec.

Finally, for a system of cap and trade in Canada has increased to 60% in 2014, and continues to be more popular among Canadians than a carbon tax (48%).

"When you dig into the data, you see that Canadians are beginning to connect the dots between the notion of 'climate change' and observable changes in weather where they live. However, Canadians lack a certain degree of climate literacy, and it would be a mistake to assume that all Canadians are on the same page when it comes to fundamental climate science," explained Erick Lachapelle, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Montreal and principal investigator for the Canadian portion of the study. "The public is not as informed as perhaps they should be about this important issue, and there continues to be wide variation across the country, in terms of perceptions, beliefs, and preferences. The division over pipelines is a case in point."

About the poll:

The National Survey of Canadian Public Opinion on Climate Change was designed by Erick Lachapelle (Université de Montréal), Chris Borick (Muhlenberg College) and Barry Rabe (University of Michigan). The survey was administered to a nationally representative sample of 1,401 Canadians aged 18 and over. All interviews were conducted via telephone in English and French from 6 October 2014 to 27 October 2014. Calls were made using both landline and mobile phone listings. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.6% in 19 of 20 samples. Regional margins of error vary according to subsample size. Results reported here are weighted according to gender, age, language and region to reflect the latest population estimates from Statistics Canada (Census 2011).

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rockwolf1000
4.6 / 5 (10) Nov 21, 2014
"Of those who perceive an increase in temperature, 61% attribute the warming to human causes, compared to only 45% in the US. The figure was significantly higher in Quebec, at 71%, and significantly lower in Alberta, at 41%."

"Within Canada, support for Keystone XL was highest in Alberta (58%)."

Since Alberta is the petroleum capital of Canada, more than anything, this study shows that many people's opinions are formed by self interest as opposed to science and facts.

"while 60% of Canadians (and 45% of Americans) believe that carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for the hole in the ozone layer."

Face. Palm. It's a real shame that the votes of the ignorant are worth as much as the votes of the informed. This is a major problem with our democracies these days. People feel entitled to remain ignorant of hard facts. A sign of their placation I assume.

gkam
3.4 / 5 (10) Nov 21, 2014
This is a matter of education.

But it is hard to teach a class with Big Money and their bullhorns blasting propaganda in the windows.
EWH
2 / 5 (8) Nov 21, 2014
Political science is not science. Opinion polls are not climatology. This article is inappropriate for this site.
Vietvet
3.8 / 5 (10) Nov 21, 2014
Political science is not science. Opinion polls are not climatology. This article is inappropriate for this site.


How much did you pay to read the article?
antigoracle
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 21, 2014
Again, I ask the AGW Chicken Littles, please share with us your GREEN sources of energy, transport and food, so that we may join your esteemed club.
oldprofjarvis2
1 / 5 (6) Nov 22, 2014
All Canadians know is what they see in the media. They are pounded with global warming propaganda. I am not a "denier" but a skeptic. I have followed the theories and observations on climate scenarios for more than 45 years. The data do not support the CO2 theory or the extreme outcomes touted by Al Gore. We should develop new technologies and improve the old ones but not support ineffective money grabbing schemes like carbon tax and trade.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 22, 2014
Tar dissolved in nasty solvents: YUM!

Can I have that over my aquifer, please?

Oldprof should be informed that cap and trade was invented by polluters and their bought Congressmen to dodge Best Available Control Technology.

Shall I explain it?
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (7) Nov 22, 2014
All Canadians know is what they see in the media. They are pounded with global warming propaganda. I am not a "denier" but a skeptic. I have followed the theories and observations on climate scenarios for more than 45 years. The data do not support the CO2 theory or the extreme outcomes touted by Al Gore. We should develop new technologies and improve the old ones but not support ineffective money grabbing schemes like carbon tax and trade.

Might it be that many Americans prefer to dismiss the facts because the Republican made it a political issue? Canadian opinion falls right in the global trend and it seems like climate change is viewed globally as the number one treat in today's world. Here is a survey by the good old American Pew Research Center: http://www.pewres...-threat/
gkam
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 22, 2014
This is not a matter of debate, it is a matter of measurement.

We have the proof.
Captain Stumpy
4.6 / 5 (9) Nov 22, 2014
The data do not support the CO2 theory or the extreme outcomes touted by Al Gore
@oldprofjarvis2
1- gore is an idiot, so leave him to his idiocy, he does NOT run the science
2- you are basing this on propaganda input, not the science
the data does support the CO2 theory: http://www.scienc...abstract
just like there is evidence of a concerted effort to undermine science by secretly funding anti-climate science movements: http://www.drexel...nge.ashx
there is evidence that the cold/extreme weather being seen is connected to the warming:
http://marine.rut..._pub.pdf
just like there is evidence that the preponderance of science out there is supporting warming: http://iopscience.../article

i can understand you being skeptic about the "extreme's", but AGW is REAL
the EVIDENCE says so, not al gore
Captain Stumpy
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 22, 2014
All Canadians know is what they see in the media. They are pounded with global warming propaganda
@oldprofjarvis2
now, specifically about this above comment

there are plenty of sources for information, so given the nature of the beast (in this case, AGW) you should seek the best possible sources of information about the subject, which is the studies and the actual evidence being presented for and against AGW

as for information via the american media: it is faulty for always providing the "alternative viewpoint", which is, in this case, unsupported conjecture based upon fear and delusion/political BS and anti-warming activists paid for my big$/big oil (as shown here: http://www.drexel...nge.ashx )

if you are looking for answers, do NOT look to the media
look for the evidence
read the science

what is acceptable?
look for studies in reputable peer reviewed journals with an impact in the subject
gkam
2.1 / 5 (7) Nov 22, 2014
"gore is an idiot, so leave him to his idiocy, he does NOT run the science"
----------------------------------------

No, but he sponsored the legislation that gave YOU and ME the Internet.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (3) Nov 22, 2014
"gore is an idiot, so leave him to his idiocy, he does NOT run the science"
----------------------------------------

No, but he sponsored the legislation that gave YOU and ME the Internet.

Ha..ha...ha.. Another Al Gore invented the Internet fan. This explains his ignorance.
Vietvet
4.5 / 5 (8) Nov 22, 2014
"gore is an idiot, so leave him to his idiocy, he does NOT run the science"
----------------------------------------

No, but he sponsored the legislation that gave YOU and ME the Internet.

Ha..ha...ha.. Another Al Gore invented the Internet fan. This explains his ignorance.


"In a speech to the American Political Science Association, former Republican Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich also stated: "In all fairness, it's something Gore had worked on a long time. Gore is not the Father of the Internet, but in all fairness, Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet---"
Captain Stumpy
4.3 / 5 (6) Nov 22, 2014
"gore is an idiot, so leave him to his idiocy, he does NOT run the science"
----------------------------------------

No, but he sponsored the legislation that gave YOU and ME the Internet.
@gkam
this point is irrelevant
gore is a politician, not a scientist, and therefore when people assume that gore is some leader in the AGW that dictates world policy or conspiracy, it is irrelevant
just like quoting gore is irrelevant

i am promoting the science, and only the science
that is where i get my information from
not gore
not vidal sassoon
not the president

the science
the studies
the physics
the thermodynamics

rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (2) Nov 23, 2014
All Canadians know is what they see in the media. They are pounded with global warming propaganda.


Indeed. We get lots of advertising from our conservative government about how they are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions yet are happy to sign as many leases as possible to new oil sands operations to the detriment of anything and everything in their proximity.

We are further inundated with corporate propaganda in the form of advertisements and sponsorships from energy companies stating their commitment to reducing greenhouse gases but in reality they only do as much as the government makes them while at the same time they have the government in their back pocket. The government continually makes rules that disallow opposition in the approval process and the regulator (AER) is giving more and more sweeping power without representation (representation of the public at least - the corporations are well represented).

So yes, there is much AGW propaganda.
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (4) Nov 23, 2014
@Old prof stupid

All Canadians know is what they see in the media.


How do you presume to know what Canadians know?

I'm a skeptic too.

I'm skeptical that you possess intelligence required to form an opinion on this subject.

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