One In Five Australians Believe Global Warming Is A Hoax

Fairfax - Felicity Caldwell

More than one in five Australians believe global warming is a hoax and more than one-third think aliens have visited Earth.
Essential Research has surveyed about 1000 Australians on various beliefs to reveal some eyebrow-raising results.
While 21 per cent of respondents believed global warming was a hoax perpetrated by scientists, 68 per cent did not believe that statement. Photo: Paul Jones
It found 21 per cent believed global warming was a hoax perpetrated by scientists - with 9 per cent strongly believing in the statement and 12 per cent somewhat believing. Another 11 per cent were not sure.
One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts has been among those to doubt climate change science, with a senior NASA official last year rejecting his claims the agency had falsified data to exaggerate warming in the Arctic.
One in three Australians think we've been visited by aliens. Photo: Keith Srakocic/AP
And in June, after being asked by Senator Roberts whether it was important for scientists to keep an open mind, chief scientist Alan Finkel agreed: "But not so open that your brain leaks out."
Griffith University Climate Change Response Program director Brendan Mackey said climate change was an established scientific fact backed up by hard data.
"We have a really solid scientific basis for knowing and understanding the way the climate is changing rapidly," Professor Mackey said.
"I find it interesting as a scientist when people say they don't believe in science because science is not a matter of faith - religion is a matter of faith.
"It's really a matter of having a scientific understanding or explanation in relation to the cause and effect."
Professor Mackey said many people had never been taught about climate change science so found it difficult to understand.
And he said it was not something you could look out the window and see or experience, such as using an iPhone.
"The technology [for smartphones] comes from scientific understanding about quantum mechanics," he said.
"There's hardly anyone who understands about quantum mechanics but the iPhone works and they're happy their phone works and they're not worried about the reason why.
"People don't say 'I don't believe in gravity' because they can feel the effect of it.
"Climate change is a more abstract concept so part of it is people don't have that direct personal experience of climate change."
However, Professor Mackey said the vast majority of people accepted the science around climate change, which was positive.
A study by Griffith University and Cardiff University found 6.5 per cent of Australians were strong climate change sceptics in 2010, while 74 per cent believed "the world's climate is changing".
About half of the respondents completely or very substantially trusted what scientists said about the environment.
Mean climate change concern levels were highest in Victoria and Western Australia and lowest in Queensland and New South Wales.
Meanwhile, the Essential Research survey showed 34 per cent of respondents believed extra-terrestrials had visited Earth - either strongly or somewhat.
The survey found 40 per cent believed heaven and hell both existed as destinations after life.
About 39 per cent said angels and demons were active in the world and 35 per cent said ghosts existed and could influence their will on the living.
It found 14 per cent believed vaccines could cause autism, while 34 per cent said the story of creation in the book of Genesis was a true account of the first man and woman.


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