Another climate poll demonstrates that climate polls are stupid
Hey, there’s another poll about climate change. (You should know beforehand that it is from Duke University, which everyone hates because of its basketball team. Don’t let this influence you.) Let’s look at it together. (Or, if you want, go look at it by yourself, who cares [PDF].)
The poll starts with this question: “Is the earth’s climate changing?” This is a dumb question for reasons articulated here. The answer? 50 percent of people are “convinced.” A third say “probably” but would “like more evidence,” so maybe they should try “Google.” 8 percent say probably not, but more evidence could convince them. These are the worst 8 percent. They are lying and could easily find all of the evidence they need, but they don’t want to do that because they don’t accept climate change and there is nothing you could do to convince them, but they like to pretend they’re being objective. Just the worst.
The next question: “Is climate change primarily because of human activity or natural causes?” Gahhhhh. We are two questions in and we’re already in a cart that’s missing a wheel flying down a rocky hillside toward disaster. 64 percent of people say it’s our fault. Everyone else says it’s natural. So I would assume that all of the respondents here have at least 10 years of experience studying the climate; each must have published at least two works on the subject of climate change. Because why else would you ask people how they feel about demonstrable fact? If you asked people what made a car go, 60 percent would say “an internal combustion engine,” 22 percent would say “steam,” and the rest would be a combination of “Jesus” and “magic.”
Oh, I should note that the question above was only asked of people who accept climate change. Duke asked people who don’t accept it a similar question: “If climate change were real, would it more likely be primarily because of human activity or natural activity?” 76 percent of these geniuses said it was “natural causes,” which they know because they just got the fucking results back from their spectrophotometers.
Next question: “How serious a threat is climate change? Which comes closer to your view?” 69 percent of people think it’s a very or somewhat serious threat. The rest of them were too busy trying to figure out how to open a banana to respond.
OK. At this point, shit gets goofy. Duke decided to dive into asking people about policy initiatives related to curbing greenhouse gases. You heard of a “carbon tax”? How about “cap-and-trade”? A “clean energy standard”? If I came to your house right now and offered you 10 grand for each of those things that you could define, how much money would I have to pay you? $20k? $10? Nothing? Policy is by far a stupider thing to ask about than if a person accepts climate change for two reasons. First, people hear about it less, so far fewer people know anything about it, so far fewer people are able to judge the quality of policy options. And, second, some idiot on Capitol Hill (probably a Duke grad) is right now using the poll results from this survey to put together a stupid press release for his boss to hold up at some press conference to make a point to one camera for a broadcast that will be watched by six people, each of whom will be polled in a week for their opinions on the policy at hand.
The poll goes on from there. Questions about vulnerability to climate change. About whether we should seek GHG reductions from big polluters or small ones (it was a tie). Gentlemen named “Mr. Smith” and “Mr. Jones” are introduced, the respondents asked if they agree with Smith that Hurricane Sandy suggests we should fight climate change, or with Jones, who says some dickish comment about big government. (People agreed more with Jones, of course.)
And last but not least: “When you watch television news, which outlet do you choose most often?” First place: Local news. Second: Fox.
Good night, everyone.