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#Science

Australians top climate sceptics’ chart

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A new study has found that Australians are the most sceptic about climate change with nearly one in five believing that environmental issues are exaggerated and that the increase in global temperatures is not dangerous.

The study, carried out by researchers at University of Tasmania found that 17 per cent of population in Australia are climate sceptics. The study published in the international journal Global Environmental Change found that Norwegians are the second most climate sceptic people with 15 per cent believing that climate change issues are exaggerated.

Though US has been at the forefront of climate change movement, 12 per cent of its population believes that things are not exactly what scientists are claiming to be. At the other end of the spectrum, Spain (2 per cent), Germany and Switzerland (both 4 per cent) were least sceptical.

The report also highlighted the contribution of political leadership to climate scepticism, which found that being conservative was one of three traits that made it more likely for someone to be a sceptic.

The authors of the study “Scepticism in a changing climate: A cross-national study”, Professor Bruce Tranter and Dr Kate Booth found that there are three common characteristics in climate sceptics across the countries surveyed.

The study notes that a male who is politically conservative and generally unconcerned about the environment, is more likely to be a climate sceptic. As far as politics is concerned, the study puts forward the case that there are deep divisions over global warming in the US, the UK and Australia, depending on which political party you supported.

“Politically, those who identify with parties of the left are more likely than supporters of right aligned parties to hold that climate change is dangerous for the environment,” the study says.

“Climate scepticism persists despite overwhelming scientific evidence that anthropogenic climate change is occurring,” the study notes, adding the reasons for this were varied and complex.

Researchers didn’t find a strong pattern or relation between factors such as age, education and whether the person was materialistic and them being climate sceptic or not.

“Age is not a particularly consistent predictor of climate scepticism, nor it appears is education, city location, religious orientation or post-material values,” the study found.

“Only political orientations (conservative), gender (male) and being unconcerned about the environmental issues are relatively consistent predictors of climate scepticism on a country by country basis.

Interestingly, the more people felt they knew about environmental problems and their solutions, the more concerned they were about them – this was the case in every country except Australia.

Those who were university educated were less likely to be sceptics in Australia, Norway and the UK, but this did not seem to make much of a difference in the other countries surveyed.

In presenting their results, the researchers noted when identifying climate sceptics, the survey did not specify man-made climate change, but argued that the term “climate change” was increasingly associated with anthropogenic climate change and so the results were still useful.

Other countries surveyed were Austria (6 per cent), Canada (8 per cent), Denmark (9 per cent), Finland (10 per cent), France (9 per cent), Sweden (10 per cent) and the UK (10 per cent).