Lewandowsky et al 2012 – Data Analysis part 1

Katabasis offered in the comments at Jo Nova’s blog to provide the raw data for the paper

“NASA faked the moon landing  — Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax:

An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science”

  Lewandowsky, S., Oberauer, K., & Gignac, C. E. (in press) Psychological Science

I took Katabasis up on the offer. Here are some preliminary results.

Please see DR_UK’s comment below

The CONSENSCO2 question was

Out of 100 climate scientists how many do you think believe that human CO2 emissions cause climate change?

In other words is it a questions about what you believe about what others believe. The comparison should be with the results of the four questions on the respondent’s own beliefs in Climate Science to be found on Page 27 of the paper. The results I hope to post up later today. The sample skew is the similar. 75% of the respondents have strong beliefs in climate science, 14% have weak beliefs and just 11% – 125 respondents – reject the science. I will post later on the revised tables. 

Q. Was the sample size sufficient?

Lewandowsky et al 2012 say

We report a survey (N > 1100) of climate blog users to identify the variables underlying acceptance and rejection of climate science.

However they do not state the proportion of respondents on which they based the results – that is those who reject the science. The data summarizes the climate results as “Consensus C02” on a scale of 0 to 100. That is 0 is complete rejection through to 100 as complete acceptance. The CONSENSCO2 question was

Out of 100 climate scientists how many do you think believe that human CO2 emissions cause climate change?

I divided the results into 5 bands to see the skew.


Fully 86% of responses largely accept the C02 consensus respondents believe that the vast majority of climate scientists believe that human CO2 emissions  and just 3% (32) strongly reject it. believe that a the vast majority are concealing the truth or lying.

This is not surprising, as the survey was only published on militant alarmist blogs such as SKEPTICALSCIENCE, TAMINO and DELTOID. Jo Nova has so far contacted 24 “skeptic” blogs, not one of whom says they received a request to publish the link to the survey.

Some of the raw results

Some quick pivot tables against the results.

Moon Landings


Comment: “Alarmists” are just as much conspiracy theorists as “Skeptics”

JFK Assassination


Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Martin Luther King Assassination


Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Diana “Assassination”


Comment: A slight much difference here between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics” – by 5 or 6 skeptic responses.

9/11 Conspiracies


Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Pearl Harbour Conspiracies


Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

SARS Conspiracies


Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Preliminary Conclusion

Readers the climate alarmist blogs are full of weird conspiracy theories. Where people that frequent these blogs rate themselves on acceptance of the CO2 Consensus makes little difference to this conclusion. Given that these blogs exist to discourage any views but their own, it is not surprising that their readership:-

  1. Share a similar, unbalanced, way of evaluating evidence to the blogs authors.
  2. Are predominantly in agreement with the views promoted.

Julia Gillard’s Carbon Taxes– An ineffective policy

Jo Nova claims the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, lied to the Australian public by being circumspect about a carbon taxes, then when in office to introduce a carbon tax to be followed by cap and trade.

Betrayal of promises is to be expected and welcomed if to meet changed circumstances. For instance new taxes to close a deficit brought on by a recession. But in this case nothing has changed. However, there is a much better reason for Australian’s to oppose the policy – it will inflict economic pain and hardship for little or no returns.

The political argument for the introduction of the policy is that we should meet international obligations. OECD countries “need” to cut CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 to constrain CO2 levels to around 550-600ppm. It is claimed by the IPCC & the Stern Review that this can be achieved by at a cost much less than the costly consequences of global warming. My example below suggests that a gasoline tax of 6.5 cents a litre would be almost totally ineffective. It would only serve to reduce living standards. Yet this is the start of CO2 reduction policies, when there should be some easy wins. It is as bigger inroads are made that reductions in CO2 should become more costly. Unless more effective policies can be devised, the CO2 reduction policies will leave us and future generations worse off than if nothing was done. Therefore, those who believe in the impending climate catastrophe, but are policy realists should join the climate sceptics in opposing the introduction in Australia of a carbon tax and carbon trading.

I try to explore demonstrate the case for climate change mitigation policies graphically here and which the policy will never link

A Carbon Tax on Gasoline

Consider a motorist in Australia who travels high distances in an old, inefficient truck. He travels 30000km a year and consumes a litre every 6km (6km/l or 17mpg in British terms). So the cost of 5000 litres used will increase the fuel bill by AU$325. If there are no gasoline taxes in Australia, fuel prices will be around $1.20 per litre, so the motorist will already be paying $6000 per year for fuel and (if he is lucky) $2000 for insurance, other taxes, maintenance and depreciation. So the tax will add 4% to his motoring costs.

At a more moderate level, consider a British example (in Australian dollars). Somebody has a medium sized car that is three years old, travelling 10,000 miles (16,000km) per year at 40mpg (14km/l). Fuel is $2 (£1.30) per litre , so costs $2280 for 1140 litres. With no serious maintenance issues, tax, depreciation, insurance and servicing cost around $4500 per annum. Total costs (rounded) are $7000 per year. A 6.5 cent carbon tax will add $71.25, or 1% to this bill.

For a newer car the percentage increase will be lower. Upgrade the specification and the percentage will be lower.

As real incomes rise people are able to afford more luxury. Compare the typical car in Australia with say Brazil, or Brazil with an African nation. In Brazil the best-selling cars have mostly one litre capacity and low specification. Many cars new cars still do not have air conditioning or electric windows. A carbon tax will take people in the reverse direction a long way before they will give up the utility of a private vehicle.

Betraying Socialist Principles to Combat Climate Change

Jo Nova reports that a Carbon Tax is coming to Australia. This is to be followed by carbon trading. Comment submitted

In economic theory, in a closed economy and zero transaction costs, with all other things being equal, a carbon trading should work quite well to reduce carbon emissions. In the real world consider these points.

1. The oil price has more than tripled in the past decade. There are enough incentives to improve energy efficiencies from this alone. The marginal impact of carbon trading will be much lower than if the oil price had been static.

2. Those businesses which can most easily pass on the extra costs to the customer are those with no competition from abroad. Supermarkets, which consume huge amounts of energy, are a good example. Australians cannot hop over to New Zealand or Singapore for their weekly groceries. The biggest burden relatively, will be borne by the poor. Manufacturing businesses will be incentivised by the profits from selling carbon credits to ship production abroad to China. High polluting, old production processes will gain a new income stream. New, efficient, competing ventures will have to pay the incumbents to enter the market.

3. The energy trading schemes are highly complex and need experts to set up the rules. Or rather people who read up on the theory, and know more than the naive punters the elected representatives of the people. Enron was bidding to be a big player, before it went bust. Lehman Brothers was bidding to be a big player, before it went bust. With mortgage securitisation now so out of fashion, this presents a new way for the masters of the universe to make extraordinary profits.

I do not keep up with politics much, especially on t’other side of globe like. (I am from Manchester, England). So have I got this reet? A socialist government in Australia is bringing in a regressive policy that could cause consumers to subsidise the movement of manufacturing jobs abroad, and help a return to the multi-million dollar bonuses in the financial services industry. All this, in the name of a policy that will be near impotent in constraining CO2 emissions.

If you follow the UNIPCC or Stern Review line, the policies to combat climate change are highly cost effective. But that requires correctly identifying the low-cost alternatives and successfully pursuing those options. Politicians have not the skill-sets, the incentives, the staying power, the knowledge, the longevity, the power, or the incentives to achieve these aims. They may inadvertently undermine the very things in which they originally believed.

Antony Watts in addition reports that whilst the socialist government in Australia is taking on carbon trading, the Republicans of New Hampshire are ditching the same policy. I commented

I do not keep up with politics too much, so Anthony, are you sure that you have things the right way round? A socialist government in Australia is bringing in a regressive policy that could cause consumers to subsidise manufacturing jobs abroad, and help a return to the multi-million dollar bonuses in the financial services industry. All this, in the name of a policy that will be near impotent in constraining CO2 emissions. The Republican Party (who represent business interests) in New Hampshire is proposing binning a policy that would help their real constituents.

Revision on 25th February.

  1. Having slept on the issue, I would like to put a perspective on my comments above. Carbon trading will have some early successes over and above rises in the oil price, as it gives a cost-bias to non-GHG energy sources. However, given that

    1. Regulation is making it difficult to build high-carbon power-stations, particularly coal. So the movement away from high fossil-fuel power is happening anyway.
    2. High carbon-emitting manufacturing has been moving away from the developed countries for years. For instance, steel, shipbuilding and bulk chemicals are goods examples, along with labour-intensive low-carbon options.
    3. Government subsidies for clean energy sources.

    So even with a well-designed and well-run policy, the impact will be limited to start off with. That is the cost per unit of CO2 saved will already be high. Then as the policy is progressed, diminishing returns will set in.