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Climate Hustle

Fox News made the US a hotbed of climate denial. Kids are the cure.

Posted on 9 May 2019 by dana1981

A new 23-country survey conducted by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project found that America has the highest percentage of climate denial among first-world nations, behind only Indonesia and Saudi Arabia in all the countries surveyed. A total of 13 percent of Americans responded that “human activity is not responsible at all” for climate change, 5 percent denied that the climate is even changing, and a further 13 percent did not know whether the climate is changing or people are responsible.

These numbers are generally consistent with surveys conducted by George Mason and Yale universities, which most recently found in late 2018 that 14 percent of Americans think global warming isn’t happening, and 23 percent deny that it’s mostly human-caused.

The good news is that those 2018 numbers were at record low levels.

Climate denial in the United States appears to be shrinking.

In evaluating why climate denial is so much more prevalent in America than other wealthy countries, it’s important to consider its demographics. In the 2018 George Mason and Yale survey, just 42 percent of conservative Republicans accepted that global warming is happening, and only 28 percent correctly attributed it to human activities. Older Americans are also more likely to deny human-caused global warming, especially white Americans over the age of 55.

Another recent survey found that Republicans who watch Fox News are more than twice as likely to deny human-caused climate change than Republican non-viewers, and 62 percent of Republicans watch Fox News. Consistent with the demographic breakdown of American climate denial, Fox News viewers are overwhelmingly old and white, as are climate deniers.

In short, the unusual level of climate denial in America is heavily concentrated among the Fox News viewership demographic of old white conservatives, and Republicans who watch the network are extremely likely to deny human-caused global warming. This suggests that the presence of Fox News and other conservative media outlets may be the primary explanation for why climate denial is more prevalent in the United States than in other developed countries.

Fortunately, a new study published in Nature Climate Change offers some hope. The paper documents an experiment in North Carolina involving “intergenerational learning.” Teachers were trained in a climate change curriculum that included engagement with parents through an interview conducted by students. The study found that the children and their parents were both more likely to be concerned about climate change after the class than those in a control group. Critically, “politically conservative parents who had the lowest concern levels before the intervention displayed the largest gains in climate change concern … fathers displayed greater gains in climate change concern than mothers,” and “daughters were more effective than sons in fostering climate change concern among their parents.”

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Comments

Comments 1 to 11:

  1. The following article seems relevant and convincing to me: How Republicans came to embrace anti-environmentalism. The deep roots of conservative opposition to the environmental state, explained.

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  2. The next generation is indeed the cure. But unfortunately a lot of damage can be done before enough of the 'cured kids' 'mature cured' and out-vote the developed status-quo opposition to helpful sustainable correction and improvement.

    And people who want to benefit from impeding progressive sustainable improvements, and even want to benefit from permanently damaging the future, understand that (and their leaders understand how damaging they are).

    The most recent political winners in Provincial elections in Canada are groups that are led by people wanting to win by abusing misleading marketing to encourage people to be greedier and less tolerant (basically wanting to un-mature the population). They understand that their best chance of winning is to establish only one choice for anyone who considers themselves to be Conservative who will therefore identify with and vote for the biggest party calling itself Conservative (they Unite the diversity of Right Wing groups under one banner and fight to resist correction of all of the unacceptable unsustainable things the many far-right want to resist correction of).

    And the new United Right winners of leadership in Alberta and Ontario have declared that they will undo the progressive improvement of the education of kids that had been developed by 'Those Other Leaders before the likes of the United Right regained control'.

    Specifically in Alberta, the recent winning UCP had been in opposition to the education curriculum updates occurring when 'Those Others' were the leaders of Alberta's government. During the election campaign the UCP generically declared that the update was done in secret even though it was a totally open presentation of drafts asking for on-line input with a large team of educators involved in developing the final curriculum.

    Specifically in Alberta, the recent winning UCP had been in opposition to the education curriculum updates occurring when 'Those Others' were the leaders of Alberta's government. During the election campaign the UCP generically declared that the update was done in secret even though it was a totally open presentation of drafts asking for on-line input with a large team of educators involved in developing the final curriculum. The UCP also claimed that the new curriculum was driven by Political Ideology.

    On this point they were, as is common with misleading marketing, partially correct. Political Ideology was indeed an issue. The stated guiding objective for the Social Studies curriculum was the following: “Social studies provides opportunities for students to develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge that will enable them to become engaged, active, informed and responsible citizens. Recognition and respect for individual and collective identity is essential in a pluralistic and democratic society.”

    That objective of Social Studies education clearly threatens the future success of the Political Ideology of the United Right. And in the USA the Trump Administration is also meddling with education policy as are the Republican controlled State legislatures.

    The next generations can only be a cure if those who want to un-mature them by meddling in their education, and tempting them to be greedier and less tolerant of diversity after school, are kept from having significant influence.

    It needs to become common sense that Altruism must be the objective that governs and limits Egoism.

    Without that correction of what has developed there will be no sustainable cure for humanity. Humanity will continue to suffer from pretty bandages that create the appearance that things are getting better (artificial unsustainable developments that look like improvements to anyone wanting to think that incorrect way).

    Without that correction, the anti-mature will continue to be successful at unjustified sticking of scary bandages onto people who try to improve the awareness and understanding of the general population. And some of those bandages will continue to be across the mouths of people who try to helpfully improve the awareness and understanding of Others to sustainably develop a better constantly improving future for a diversity of humanity fitting sustainably into a robust diversity of other life on this amazing planet.

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  3. Good article, however this is what we are up against: 

    In America’s Science Classrooms, the Creep of Climate Skepticism. Conservative groups are working hard to challenge the teaching of mainstream climate science in schools. In Florida, they’ve found a winning strategy.

    Politics has invaded America’s classrooms since Trump. 7 teachers describe the new reality.

    Idaho Stripped Climate Change From School Guidelines. Now, It’s a Battle.

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  4. The reason conservatives respond well to working through climate issues with their children is conservatives place trust of family and their "in group" very high. Refer moral foundations theory on wikipedia

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  5. We watch Fox News for the unintentional comedy it provides.

    The in-your-face bias in all subjects is so blatant it is laughable.

    An example is the way that a couple of years ago just about every programme  brought up the expletive "ObamaCare" regardless of subject.

    Long may Fox News live!

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  6. Wol: I stopped watching Fox News years ago when I ran out of barf bags. 

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  7. Recommended supplemental reading:

    Young Republicans Aren’t Going Along with Fox on the Green New Deal by Jeremy Deaton, Nexus Media, May 10, 2019

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  8. I do not know too much about "Fox News" since I don't live in America, but a quick google search turned up a lot of hits from various media scrutiny organisations finding they lean strongly to the right, and are the most biased and inaccurate media outlet, or one of the most biased and inaccurate. One might almost say there is a consensus.

    I like the saying "if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. Origins of quotation here.

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  9. #1

    Nigelj, your link also tells me that what was 40 years in the making will take more than the 2020 elections to fix.  This is a long haul decades task we face.  ... and yes, you may not know much about Fox News, but you certainly know something about Rupert Murdoch and his media presence in Great Britain and Australia.

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  10. I thought this site was centered around scepticism. The notion that climate is changing at a rate that is creating an emergency, and that human activity is the primary cause of the changes can easily be doubted. Just look at the record of atmospheric temp verse CO2 concentrations. Also looking at previous predictions illustrates that scientific understanding around climate change is still poor. Similar to our understanding of the human genome we can see all the components but our understanding of how it completely works is still beyond us. But let's give up on reason, and blame Fox news, and use our kids instead of our own adult voices - very mature.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Pure sloganeering. This site is based around the results of peer-reviewed research. If you want to challenge science, then do so providing evidence to back your assertion. Also, strawman arguments and cherry-picking are norm for denial. If you want to claim science is wrong, then first  quote the source of science you believe at fault (eg an IPCC report), then the evidence that refutes it.  Claiming science says something that it does not (eg direct relationaship between temperatgure and CO2) is just denier ploy.

  11. Warend @10

    Thank's for the comments, they include some fair questions. I post comments on this website sometimes and I'm interested in climate change.

    "I thought this site was centered around scepticism."

    And it is. Read the mission statement at the top of the page: "This website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism." !

    This website is not dedicated quite so much to scepticism about climate science because there are plenty of other forums for that. Having said that, none of the regulars here take the science at face value, we always look for flaws in it and this is sometimes discussed here when new papers come out. But we look for real flaws in the maths and physics, we do not make sweeping claims that climate scientists are dishonest or part of some imagined conspiracy or the data is faked, as many sceptics do, and we know when to move on. For example its been well and truly demonstrated that urban heat islands are not distorting the temperature record, so we don't understand why people remain sceptical about this.

    There is such a thing as rational scepticism, and just scepticism for the sake of it or to promote political agendas and vested interests. Not all sceptics do this but many do.

    "The notion that climate is changing at a rate that is creating an emergency, and that human activity is the primary cause of the changes can easily be doubted. Just look at the record of atmospheric temp verse CO2 concentrations. "

    A correlation doesn't have to be perfect to be statistically significant. Look at the 20th century and calculate a correlation coefficient and its still high even with the flat period of temperatures in the middle which are explained by industrial aerosols after the war. So there is no reason to doubt the relationship between CO2 and warming on the basis of this period of time, or any other period of time, because there is a decent correlation for the whole period and explanations for why the correlation breaks down in the middle: Particluate emissions masked but did not stop the greenhouse effect. 

    "Also looking at previous predictions illustrates that scientific understanding around climate change is still poor. "

    What predictions? Predictions of warming and sea level rise have been pretty good. Look up model data comparisons over at realclimate.org. Here is an amazing list of other good predictions and a few bad predictions from the sceptical "community". Of course there have been some failed predictions, but not many when you look at them honestly and objectively.

    "Similar to our understanding of the human genome we can see all the components but our understanding of how it completely works is still beyond us. "

    But climate scientists are the first to admit our understanding isn't perfect. We dont fully understand how cancer works but we certainly know what causes it and whats most likely to happen. We have a good but not perfect understanding of the climate.

    "But let's give up on reason, and blame Fox news, and use our kids instead of our own adult voices - very mature.

    Where specifically have we given up on reason? I dont think we have. This website seems very well reasoned.

    I certainly blame Fox news for induging in poor quality, misleading forms of scepticism. They should be called out over this.

    Adults didn't 'use' these kids. The 'kids' organised these protests largely on their own volition. It all came as a surprise to me.

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