Are conservatives more sceptical of climate change? It depends

May 8, 2018, University of Queensland
Are conservatives more sceptical of climate change? It depends
Researchers have analysed the link between climate scepticism and political conservatism. Credit: University of Queensland

The widely held belief that people with conservative political views are more likely to reject climate change science has been challenged by University Queensland researchers.

Professor Matthew Hornsey and colleagues from UQ's School of Psychology and School of Communication and Arts surveyed 5323 people across 25 countries to analyse the link between climate scepticism and political conservatism.

"I was intrigued why, of the 17 candidates who campaigned to be the Republican nominee for the 2016 United States presidential campaign, many were openly sceptical of ," Professor Hornsey said.

"This mainstream rejection of climate among a major political party was not evident in other countries, which raised the question: is the tendency for conservatives to be more climate sceptical a global phenomenon, or something that's distinctively American?

"We found that in approximately 75 per cent of the countries surveyed, conservatives didn't show any more scepticism of than other people.

"Interestingly, countries with relatively low levels of carbon emissions showed no relationship between conservatism and climate scepticism, whereas countries with high levels of emissions– including America and Australia – showed a stronger link.

"One possible reason is that conservatives in countries with high carbon emissions have more of a vested interest in rejecting climate science, due to the fossil fuel industry's investment in that country."

In addition to asking about political ideology, participants were asked about their belief in conspiracy theories.

"The inspiration for this question was Donald Trump's tweet saying that climate science was a hoax created by the Chinese to make US manufacturing uncompetitive," Professor Hornsey said.

Participants were asked to what extent they believed four famous conspiracies: that President John F. Kennedy was killed as part of an organised plot; that Princess Diana was murdered; that there was a group of elites conspiring to create a New World Order; and that the US government knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance and let them happen.

"We found that the more Americans believed conspiracies generally, the more they also thought that climate change was a hoax.

"This relationship was not found in the vast majority of countries."

Professor Hornsey said the climate change views of non-American participants were not strongly linked with conspiratorial thinking, or their politics.

"This suggests that ideological barriers to accepting science don't emerge from people spontaneously critiquing scientific consensus through the lens of their world views.

"Rather, ideological barriers to accepting science can also be encouraged by influential individuals and organisations who have a vested interest in communicating that the science is wrong.

"These results are encouraging for change mitigation efforts globally."

Published in Nature Climate Change, the study was a collaboration between Professor Hornsey and Ph.D. student Emily Harris from UQ's School of Psychology, and Associate Professor Kelly Fielding from UQ's School of Communication and Arts.

Explore further: Belief in conspiracy theories associated with vaccine skepticism

More information: Matthew J. Hornsey et al. Relationships among conspiratorial beliefs, conservatism and climate scepticism across nations, Nature Climate Change (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0157-2

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46 comments

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zenga
1 / 5 (10) May 08, 2018
I believe the question should more appropriately have been "Are liberals more likely to believe in AGW, even in the face of contrary facts, and can Democrats use them as puppets, thereby"
mackita
1 / 5 (3) May 08, 2018
Countries with relatively low levels of carbon emissions showed no relationship between conservatism and climate skepticism, whereas countries with high levels of emissions– including America and Australia – showed a stronger link

And what is interesting about it? Financial interests are in the game, as usually. For example Japan is the country, which initiated and hosted Kyoto protocol - and Japan is also one of largest net importers of fossil fuels. As whales hunted for "ecological research" know, the people struggle to protect not life environment, but their financial interests.
Actually the conservative members of local mafias in countries like Brazil or Indonesia support the renewable movement and production of biofuels the most - try to guess why.. ;-)

b_man
1 / 5 (9) May 08, 2018
Conservatives do better math apparently. The human effect on the effects of greenhouse gas is.. 6 parts in 1,000,000, or nothing. It is impossible for humans to affect climate, except in the ignorant liberal minds:) Do the math
JamesG
1 / 5 (7) May 08, 2018
Truly, it's not climate change per se that people doubt. It's the fact that scientists let the UN be the major player in the process. The UN is a socialist money laundering operation. They have totally ruined the credibility of all the scientists who linked their research to them. The Paris accord was a sham. They wanted people to spend trillions of dollars and the US would be stuck with a huge portion of the bill for a program that would probably have little to no effect. It was led by the worthless UN and it was worthless. Then the whole process became political and it became us against them, basically another bureaucratic 2 party system with all the lies and deceit from both sides that follows. So, due to that, we all hate each other instead of working together.
Da Schneib
3.9 / 5 (14) May 08, 2018
Climate change denial is a mental disease and it will be identified that way in the future.
TechnoCreed
1 / 5 (6) May 08, 2018
@Da Schneib
Climate change denial is a mental disease and it will be identified that way in the future.
I gave you one star on this comment;I expect more from you than being a provocateur.

sparcboy
1 / 5 (6) May 08, 2018
Excerpts from: The Most Important Number in Climate Change By David Biello | November 30, 2015 Scientific American

http://www.scient...tcomment

Clouds control climate. Even if they could be correctly accounted for in computer simulations, there are all the complexities in the types of clouds, their height in the atmosphere, even the composition and shape of droplets in the cloud. Climate models struggle to simulate hurricanes,…"

"The Earth is a complex system, an irreducible complexity that defies simplification into computer models."

"It's a bit like watching traffic at a busy crossroad for an hour," says Reto Knutti, a climate scientist at ETH Zurich. "You can learn a lot about the rules of traffic by doing that, but it would be very difficult to predict how traffic will change over the next decade or century."

"As the saying goes: all models are wrong, but some are useful."
Tessellatedtessellations
4.3 / 5 (12) May 08, 2018
Conservatives in the US have a history of dulled empathy and moral torpitude, but years ago I don't recall them so blatantly embracing this weird mixture of paranoia, ignorance and wilful cruelty. Personally, I think their demise as mostly positive members of society began with religious extremism -- acceptance of ideas like young Earth creationism and that Christians have some sort of god given mandate to impose their opinions on others by government force. Conservative lie dissemination organisations such as the many Koch brothers business charities, Fox News, and etc, saw opportunity to manipulate the new mental weaknesses to benefit the billionaires and spread a vile brand of the libertarian religion. The constant exercise of their mental weaknesses made it worse to the point these people can now barely function in many areas of real life. Their ability to reason and contribute to civil society is castrated. Ironically, their religious beliefs are now antithetical to Christianity.
Mark Thomas
4.5 / 5 (8) May 08, 2018
Are conservatives more sceptical of climate change?


The endless conservative/liberal debates are simply a smokescreen designed to fool the masses. Political leanings have absolutely nothing to do with science or mathematics. The reality is the people making billions of dollars selling fossil fuel, like the Koch Brothers, want to keep the gravy train going as long as possible. Follow the money.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (7) May 08, 2018
Ironically, their religious beliefs are now antithetical to Christianity.


Exactly right! Liberty University, a big Christian university in Virginia, is proud of having the only gun range on campus of any university in the U.S. Liberty University would have us believe that if Jesus were alive today he would be a gun-toting Republican. Good thing from their perspective nobody reads or understands the bible, except as they tell them to.

Of course Jesus was the biggest liberal to ever walk the face of the Earth. For example, you can get into heaven simply by believing, not working. Turn the other cheek. Free food for the poor (fish and bread) to listen to his message of compassion. Free health care in terms of miraculous hearings.
antialias_physorg
4.9 / 5 (8) May 08, 2018
Exactly right! Liberty University, a big Christian university in Virginia, is proud of having the only gun range on campus of any university in the U.S. Liberty University would have us believe that if Jesus were alive today he would be a gun-toting Republican.

not only that...he according to them he would probably be a capitalist (rather than the dyed-in-the-wool communist that he's in the bible). The only thing missing is that they make him out to be white and a racist and then you're about as antithetical as you can get.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) May 08, 2018
Exactly right! Liberty University, a big Christian university in Virginia, is proud of having the only gun range on campus of any university in the U.S. Liberty University would have us believe that if Jesus were alive today he would be a gun-toting Republican.

Not only that...according to them he would probably be a capitalist (rather than the dyed-in-the-wool communist that he's according to the bible). The only thing missing is that they make him out to be white and a racist and then you're about as antithetical as you can get.

It's so weird hw many countries and political parties (and common people) that call themselves christian are almost exactly the opposite of what they're referring to..
lengould100
5 / 5 (6) May 08, 2018
It's so weird hw many countries and political parties (and common people) that call themselves christian are almost exactly the opposite of what they're referring to.


That obvious observation has always puzzled me too. How do they not simply collapse from cognitive dissonance?
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (5) May 08, 2018
@Da Schneib
Climate change denial is a mental disease and it will be identified that way in the future.
I gave you one star on this comment;I expect more from you than being a provocateur.
While it's provocative, it's also true. Think about Orson Welles' broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" in 1938, for example. I think this is far more than provocateurism.

I think the effect I refer to provocatively is also part and parcel of the denial of evolution by natural selection by the fervently religious; I think that set the stage in the US. Lincoln is supposed to have said, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." The Republicans starting in the 1980s discovered you can fool enough of the people to win an election a lot of the time, building on politics used by demagogues in fascist dictatorships in the 1930s.
[contd]
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (4) May 08, 2018
[contd]
It's trite but obvious that you can lead a person to knowledge but you can't make them think.

Have you ever seen any of the facts I talk about on global warming threads, or anyone else who talks about facts on climate change, modify one denialist's conviction that their vast conspiracy of "climate scientists" (actually called geophysicists by the non-ignorant) isn't faking it for fame and fortune?

I have personally argued with deniers who didn't "believe in" the physics of CO2 orbitals and their absorption of spectral lines. At what point do you stop saying "they're misled" and start saying "they're insane?" Because that's what it comes down to.

If you see something you think is true but being denied by geophysicists by all means trot it out. But just voting a 1 because you think the observation is "provocative" is, if you will pardon me, chickenshit, @Techno. Bring data or be ignored as another of the nutjobs.
[contd]
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (5) May 08, 2018
[contd]
Truth is not equal to lies; you can do experiments and discern the difference. When all of the data come out the same way, it's time to stop pretending someone denying the truth "deserves equal time" or that labeling them as mentally diseased is "provocative" or "unbalanced." Stop watching Faux Entertainment Channel and join the human race.

FUD was used first to destroy a mercantile competitor. It was only a matter of time until it was used against political competitors. The essence of FUD is to make accusations that can be disproven, but not without effort. Science wins because it always checks for disproof, but it is not instantaneous and the accusations are accepted as fact and no longer subject to rational disputation.

If you have some alternative to shock therapy, where the individual is subjected to information that forces them to face cognitive dissonance or outright deny reality proving the conjecture they are insane, feel free to present it.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (3) May 08, 2018
Da Schneib, for me this is clear evidence supporting the conclusion that our education system needs to be teaching far more critical thinking than it currently does. Kids should be mentally dissecting current events beginning in their early teens so they can understand exactly what is going on. This should be relative easy considering how corruption is so close to the surface right now. I could do a whole class on Scott Pruitt alone! However, I would not want to inflict too much Scott Pruitt on anyone. :-)
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (3) May 08, 2018
Da Schneib, to me this gets closer to the core of our problems, i.e., corruption and stupidity. We need to our best minds to periodically redesign our governments and public institutions for benefit of the governed, not the rich and powerful. Everyone can start laughing now, but this is exactly what the Founding Fathers of the U.S. did and why they were so successful, at least for a while.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (3) May 08, 2018
@Mark, I think you are far too convinced of the malleability of children particularly considering that their parents are as likely to be insane as anyone else's. If teacher says one thing and Mommy says another it's pretty well over, isn't it?

And to give the nastiest kick to the deniers, we eliminated lead from gasoline and the murder rate fell. What do you need, written instructions?
HealingMindN
1 / 5 (3) May 08, 2018
Because I am an American Conservative, Professor Matthew Hornsey and colleagues say I am also a conspiracy theorist heavily influenced by oil cartels AND I am a climate science denier - even though "climate science" has not be defined here. OK. Where's that rock you want me to crawl under?
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (3) May 09, 2018
If you drink the koolaid it's a bit late to regret it when you start having trouble breathing.
Thorium Boy
2.3 / 5 (3) May 09, 2018
Long ago, a test for gullibility was given to various groups. Top scorers (least gullible) were conservative businessmen. Most gullible? 1st year university students. They scored worse than pre-teen children. No coicidence they and millenials are the biggest believers in theman-made global warming lie.
leetennant
5 / 5 (4) May 09, 2018
Conservatives do better math apparently.


"Conservatives with a vested interest in the existing fossil fuel industry in the United States do better math... "

But they don't do logic, apparently.

I mean, we all knew that the reason conservatives don't believe in climate change is because they've been paid to. But now the data backs it up.
mackita
1 / 5 (1) May 09, 2018
Both liberals, both conservatives have their own biases - the actual truth is IMO somewhere inbetween: climate change is real, but the human involvement in it is lower, than liberals suggest. What's worse, their methods are inefficient and ipso-facto they make situation worse.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) May 09, 2018
Not only that...according to them he would probably be a capitalist (rather than the dyed-in-the-wool communist that he's according to the bible).


Pot, meet kettle.

Jesus was neither socialist or capitalist, because what he really was doing is claiming that all this earthly business with money or posessions, means of production or social organization, simply don't matter in the grand scheme of God. it's heaven you're aiming for - not some communist utopia. In other words, all the beautiful plans of man are in vain, whether by Marx or von Mises.

The biblical point of view can be summarized by the story of Job:
http://biblehub.c...b/38.htm
drrobodog
5 / 5 (3) May 09, 2018
If teacher says one thing and Mommy says another it's pretty well over, isn't it?

That depends on how well a redesigned education system functions. Hopefully with the best minds at work there will be a solution to such things. Maybe it could be a trend over many generations to reach the best system, who knows.
Joker23
1 / 5 (3) May 09, 2018
Americans are more skeptical of these issues and are more likely to ascribe conspiracy to events because we are under constant attempts by globalists to strip us of the freedoms that are guaranteed by our Constitution. They do this by using lies and deceit. The recent evidence of that in the current attempts by these globalists and democrats that have infiltrated our political system and who have made themselves above the law. This is viewed by conservatives and American Patriots as an attempt to use ANYTHING they can to create another Aristocracy in the United States, the Aristocracy that our Forefathers rejected over 200 years ago.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) May 09, 2018
we are under constant attempts by globalists to strip us of the freedoms that are guaranteed by our Constitution

Erm...you do realize the irony if what you are posting, right? (in case you don't know: "anyone wanting to strip americans of their freedoms" IS such a crazy conspiracy theory...there is really no one that has any benefit from that. And, not to put too fine point on it, compared to most countries in the developed world, America doesn't have all that many freedoms...and no one is trying to strip any of the - by comparison - free countries of their freedoms)
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) May 09, 2018
If teacher says one thing and Mommy says another it's pretty well over, isn't it?

That depends on how well a redesigned education system functions. Hopefully with the best minds at work there will be a solution to such things. Maybe it could be a trend over many generations to reach the best system, who knows.
As long as people keep thinking a Babble by drunken stone age sheep herders is more important than education in how the real world works, there will be prey for charlatans and selfish politicians.
jhmay03
1.8 / 5 (5) May 09, 2018
Folks, this is science, stop calling people crazy or stupid. State your facts and back them up. Attacking people for believing in God is not how to operate. As for Global Warming, what is causing me to become skeptical is; Al Gore lied about corn to alcohol and admitted it and we are still doing it. Name changed from Global cooling (70's) to Global Warming (late 90's) to Global climate change now and in each case the culprit was the same (oil)
If we really believe CO2 is the problem and it needs to be stopped now, the only viable energy source available right now is nuclear. Dangerous, but is it more dangerous then CO2? Shouldn't we use it until a better solution is found, especially if the Global Warming will destroy the world? We got rid of mercury thermometers, but then said it was okay to have fluorescent lights in our house. I get the difference, but lay people do not and it seems like we are stretching the truth. People doubt because we call them names, lie, & change name
Dug
2 / 5 (4) May 09, 2018
Why is it that climate change skepticism seems to be viewed as black and white with no middle grounds? There are a large number of us in the middle that have issues with the nascent science of climate change and the accuracy it assigns to its metrology - demonstrable or not. There will always be skepticism just as their will always be error and a need for adjustment to the scientific truth - including in climate change. Those that are on the extreme ends of denial and or absolute acceptance of climate science as being an indisputable perfect truth - are in reality suffering from the same intellectual defect - an unhealthy lack of skepticism and or an ability to observe the reality around them.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (2) May 09, 2018
If teacher says one thing and Mommy says another it's pretty well over, isn't it?


Da Schneib, either you don't have grown kids or you are the luckiest parent I know. Most parents I know would give an arm to have their offspring listen to them consistently. If you do have kids, I am guessing you haven't gone through the teenage years yet. :-)

Da Schneib
not rated yet May 09, 2018
Having known some very religious and conservative families, my observation is that by and large the kids follow their parents' religion. It's the rule rather than the exception as you are implying, @Mark.
mackita
1 / 5 (1) May 09, 2018
Why is it that climate change skepticism seems to be viewed as black and white with no middle grounds?
Spontaneous symmetry breaking once too much money gets involved (too much heated fluid separates into volatile liberal bubbles and rigid conservative membranes of foam). You an see here, that the people at both sides of controversy aren't interested about facts anymore - they downvote everyone, who would just attempt for it. Fortunately there are no territorial disputes yet - but this is how wars evolve into a definiteness .
mackita
1 / 5 (2) May 09, 2018
Trump White House quietly cancels NASA research verifying greenhouse gas cuts Congress Is Quietly Nudging NASA to Look for Aliens - from certain perspective D. Trump just fill his promises he gave his voters. You may like it or not - but in this sense he remains most consequential leader of the USA history.
leetennant
5 / 5 (4) May 09, 2018
Why is it that climate change skepticism seems to be viewed as black and white with no middle grounds? .


I can't wait to hear your "middle ground" position on other scientific facts like gravity. Make sure you represent "both sides" to gravity as well. Wouldn't want to be biased!
Mark Thomas
not rated yet May 10, 2018
Da Schneib, my focus was on critical thinking, not religion.
Da Schneib
not rated yet May 10, 2018
Critical thinking isn't nearly as easy to teach-- or to learn-- as religion. In fact, that's why religion is so successful; most people are lazy thinkers.
Mark Thomas
not rated yet May 10, 2018
Da Schneib, I agree, that's why I wrote, "Kids should be mentally dissecting current events beginning in their early teens so they can understand exactly what is going on." I realize teaching critical thinking might seem difficult, but my guess is most people will benefit to some degree and so will society as a whole. At a minimum, it is worth experimenting.
Mark Thomas
not rated yet May 10, 2018
Da Schneib, I agree, that's why I wrote, "Kids should be mentally dissecting current events beginning in their early teens so they can understand exactly what is going on." Teaching critical thinking might seem difficult, but my guess is most people will benefit and so will society as a whole. At a minimum, it is worth experimenting to find out.

At a more fundamental level, just take a step back and look at how pathetic all the present social debates are in the U.S. media. Liberal or conservative. Keep or lose confederate war monuments. Assault weapons for 18 year olds. These are distractions for the weak-minded. We should be debating how to reform our society to make it the most effective possible. How to best balance individual freedoms against the common good for maximum long term effect. How to explore the solar system in person. We waste so much time discussing the trivial when we should be discussing what a truly advanced race looks like and our plans to achieve it.
Da Schneib
3 / 5 (2) May 10, 2018
I'm much more harsh, @Mark. I think parents who force religion on children should be arrested, tried, and convicted for child abuse and their custody of children and right to have children should be permanently rescinded.

Just imagine what we'd do to parents who tried to feed parasites to their children. Well, that's exactly what they're doing.
MR166
1 / 5 (2) May 10, 2018
"The reality is the people making billions of dollars selling fossil fuel, like the Koch Brothers, want to keep the gravy train going as long as possible. Follow the money."

Follow billions of your tax money and it will lead right to Elon Musk.

Al least it is my choice to buy oil products or not but I am forced to pay for my neighbors solar panel. The general population's free choice is not something that Progressives value since they always know what is "best".
Da Schneib
3.7 / 5 (3) May 10, 2018
At the scale Musk is working at, a billion is half Tesla's income. But at the scale of the US budget a billion is peanuts. I'm not worried about my share of a billion US budget dollars. A trillion, now that worries me.

As for solar panels that's millions at most.

Conservatoids (that means small conservative-mimicking objects) whine over millions while their masters embezzle trillions. It's not even a bacterium on an exoparasite on a flea on a fleck of shit on a boil on the ass of Trump.
mackita
1 / 5 (2) May 10, 2018
Alarmists less eco-friendly than skeptics: a study Believing in climate change, but not behaving sustainably: Evidence from a one-year longitudinal study The authors have followed the behavior of some 600 Americans and it turned out that the climate skeptics could report more environmentally-friendly behavior than the climate fearmongers. Skeptics were more likely to use the public transportation, recycle, and do other things.

IMO it's not accidental because the actual carbon footprint of alarmists tends to by systematically higher than this one of climate realists, because these people simply refuse to calculate their real environmental impacts as demonstrated by links in this thread. The road to the hell is always pawed by good intentions.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) May 10, 2018
"Alarmists" is why I call you @macurinetherapy.
leetennant
5 / 5 (3) May 10, 2018
Alarmists less eco-friendly than skeptics: a study https://www.scien...01488#!. The road to the hell is always pawed by good intentions.


A self-reported study of 600 people over one year?

I could easily write a headline saying "skeptics more likely to lie about sustainable behaviour".

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