- JoNova - https://www.joannenova.com.au -

Congrats! US, Sweden, Australia have more climate “deniers” than anywhere

There are more skeptics in the USA than anywhere, followed by Sweden, Australia, Norway, Netherlands, Canada, Finland, and Germany. And in the same large report, we find that Australian “trust” in the media has fallen yet again from 44% last year to 38% this year.

As well as those listed dismissively as “deniers” (see the graph below) another 10% say climate change is “not very serious”. So about 1 in 5 people, are outspoken skeptics — which doesn’t add up with the “Four out of five news consumers say they consider climate change to be either somewhat, very or extremely serious (79%).” They had to rule out those who aren’t “news consumers” to get the figure up to 79%. It also doesn’t fit with many past surveys that show that half the people in Australia, and the UK and the US are skeptics.  (See “Polls“)

They don’t say how many people were neither concerned, nor unconcerned. Where is that data?

Skeptics, country by country. USA, Sweden, Australia lead list of "deniers".  Graph.

Skeptics, country by country. USA, Sweden, Australia lead list of “deniers”  | Click to enlarge.

From this report we can see why censorship is the main tool of the climate believers. People exposed to both sides of the story (even partially, such as The Australian does) is enough to enable more to shift to sensible positions. Only the poor sods who watch the ABC or read The Guardian, and Fairfax papers have no idea and little courage to form their own views.

Summary: This year’s survey shows that Australian news consumers are more than twice as likely than their counterparts in other countries to think that climate change is ‘not at all’ serious. The data reveal that perceptions of climate change reporting are strongly divided along generational and political lines.

It’s divided on predictable lines. The left believe in climate change and also believe the media tell the truth:

Those on the left of the political spectrum are more concerned about the issue and think the coverage is more accurate and informative, whereas those on the right are less concerned about it and view the reporting about climate change less favourably. Older generations are also less concerned, pay less attention to the coverage and are less likely to view reporting about it positively. While the distinction is most prominently seen in those aged 74 and over, Baby Boomers are also less concerned about climate change and pay less attention to news about it.

This survey was done in late January in the glowing embers of the summer heat and fires. This would have been Peak Believer Time downunder:

The number of climate deniers in Australia is more than double the global average, new survey finds

…new research …surveyed 2,131 Australians about their news consumption in relation to climate change.  The Digital News Report: Australia 2020 was conducted by the University of Canberra at the end of the severe bushfire season during January 17 and February 8, 2020.

On the good side more than half say they want impartial news and 62% think independent journalism is important for society to function. Scarily — that means 38% don’t think independent journalism matters.

Those who access news via commercial AM radio (i.e. 2GB, 2UE, 3AW) (35%), Sky News (35%) and Fox News (32 %) are less likely to think climate change is serious.

So one third of people think the news is giving them the whole story, one third don’t know, and one third are sure the news is fake:

News consumers are evenly divided in their opinion about the accuracy of reporting on the issue with one-third (36%) saying it is accurate and one-third (33%) saying it is not.

At least 1 in 5 admitted they just want news to reinforce their world view. At least they are honest.

Trust in media is falling

These are Australian statistics, not global ones. Trust is in rapid decline.

Trust in news generally is falling across all platforms that participants said were their main source of news. Trust among those who mainly use print newspapers and magazines has fallen the most, dropping by nearly 20% since 2018 to a low of 39% in this year’s survey (see figure 6.3).
Trust in news is falling. Graph. 2020

Trust in news is falling. page 73.

Who do they blame?

Naturally, the believers consider everything except the possibility that the skeptics might be right. The report highlights a journalist who also happens to be an academic. Not-so-independent, eh?

Greg Jericho, Journalist, Guardian Australia/ Lecturer, University of Canberra, thinks it’s a conspiracy of “major media groups”:


““So much of a journalist’s job when reporting on climate change is devoted to correcting falsehoods.””

“….the big problem with climate change is that major media groups are also behind the clouding of the truth. It is hard enough to convey scientific knowledge to the lay person without having to compete with news organisations who devote large space and time to those who push the view that climate change is a conspiracy. It is so very easy to fake reports about climate change – to suggest scientists in the 1970s believed we were about to have an ice age (they didn’t), that scientists ignore a multitude of factors such as sun spots and volcanic activity (they don’t), or to argue that the world hasn’t warmed since 1997, 2001, 2010 (it has), or that it has but not significantly (it has) and then throw in reference to hacked emails and “hiding the decline”. And such columns can be regurgitated, and once again the demand comes from readers for you to correct or answer them.”

So Jericho won’t even consider that his answers fail to persuade anyone because they are weak, wrong, badly researched, or just ignore the most serious skeptical positions.  And despite his assertions, newspaper records show scientists claimed we were headed for an ice age. The IPCC models don’t include anything on solar magnetic cycles, solar wind changes, or solar spectral cycles. And no sane adult believes that honest scientists would “use tricks” to “hide declines”. Since the Guardian hasn’t ever acknowledged that or tried to expose corrupt and inept scientists, everyone who knows about “hiding the decline” also knows that Greg Jericho doesn’t care about the climate or “the science”.

Only 37% of rightleaning consumers think climate change is very serious.

The interesting question that Jericho doesn’t even think of: When right leaning voters don’t care about climate change, why are right leaning parties pandering to left leaning voters so much?

Audiences expect there to be political debate across media outlets over aspects such as the efficacy of a tax cut – in a sense there is a balance that can be found when covering such issues. But the climate change debate, despite over 30 years of extensive coverage (Time Magazine named “The Endangered Earth” its “Person” of the Year in 1988), remains largely stuck. The finding of this report showing that 82% of leftleaning news consumers regard climate change as very or extremely serious compared to just 37% of rightleaning consumers is bad enough. But that only just over half of those who class themselves as politically “centre” are very or extremely concerned suggests those journalists attempting to seek a balanced path are mostly doing so by underplaying the issue.

The answer is that right leaning parties are cowering in fear that the left leaning journalists will be petty, nasty and target them spitefully. Fear and bullying can control politicians up to a point, but in the privacy of a ballot box, the voters keep choosing anything-but-climate-propaganda. Shall we have another “climate change election”?

A lot of the audience just isn’t listening

Jericho is baffled that even believers can’t be bothered with climate news.

And while you might expect that 36% of those who do not at all regard climate change as a serious problem to say they do not pay attention to any news on the issue, more worrying is that 27% of those who see it as “somewhat serious” also do not pay any attention to such news. That suggests a major media failing – especially given a higher likelihood for such people to live in rural areas that are at the sharp end of climate change impact.

While it may be right to put a majority of the blame on those political parties and media companies which seek to sow doubt about climate change, these results also suggest other media organisations perhaps should reconsider how they are telling the stories, and think more about how to reach those who are not currently listening.

My reply:

Dear Greg Jericho,

People on both sides stopped listening because one-sided repetitive news with no debate is stone-boring propaganda. If you want to learn how to reach those who are not listening, you might start by listening to them, instead of preaching at them. (Call it “interview and research”, eh?)

You could try treating readers with civility.  Calling them petty names like “denier” marks you as an unprofessional, ignorant writer, who hasn’t done his homework, and doesn’t know what skeptics think.  The people you call “deniers” are engineers, doctors, geologists, meteorologists and some even have Nobels, and others walked on the Moon.

The “undereducated” older folk you mention are streetwise farmers, business owners, truckies and taxi-drivers. They know a con when they see one. Only the babyface snowflakes are easy to fool.

If you told both sides of the story, people wouldn’t be reading blogs.

Thanks for sending traffic my way.

Jo Nova


Details of methods: The survey included 2,131 Australians out of nearly 90,000 in a panel. It may be well be very self-selecting. It’s only online, and bizarrely 7% were excluded because they hadn’t “consumed” news in the last month. (Why don’t they count?) People who don’t use the internet were 100% excluded by definition.

The survey was conducted by YouGov using an online questionnaire between 17 January and 8 February 2020. The sample is drawn from an online panel of 89,850 Australians. The final sample is reflective of the population that has access to the internet. To be included, respondents must have consumed news in the past month. As a result, 7% of the initial survey respondents were excluded.



PArk et al, Digital News Report (2020) Canberra University.  PDF

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