Wednesday, August 12, 2020

GWPF Newsletter - Exclusive Poll: Amid Covid-19, Americans Don’t Care About Climate Change Anymore

Waning Attention To Climate Change Amid Pandemic Could Have Lasting Effects

In this newsletter:

1) Exclusive Poll: Amid Covid-19, Americans Don’t Care About Climate Change Anymore
Will Johnson, Fortune, 10 August 2020
2) Gallup Poll: Most Americans Rank Climate Change As Least Important Issue
Climate Change Dispatch, 7 August 2020

3) Waning Attention To Climate Change Amid Pandemic Could Have Lasting Effects
University of Colorado at Boulder, 5 August 2020
4) The Climate Left Attacks Nobel Laureate William D. Nordhaus
Benjamin Zycher, American Enterprise Institute, 29 July 2020
5) The Truly Gobsmacking Cost of Generating Offshore Wind Power
Stop These Things, 11 August 2020 

6) Greenland’s Summer Melt Season Set To Be Shortest For Years
Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 11 August 2020

7) And Finally: Greta Thunberg’s Message Of Doom Is Religion, Not Reality
Iain Martin, The Times, 30 July 2020

Full details:

1) Exclusive Poll: Amid Covid-19, Americans Don’t Care About Climate Change Anymore
Will Johnson, Fortune, 10 August 2020

Battered by pandemic and economic collapse, do Americans have the capacity to care about the environment? Not so much, judging by a national poll we just conducted. 


We asked a panel of U.S. adults a series of questions about today’s most crucial issues, environmental policy options, and their own behavior. In all three categories, I was personally surprised and discouraged to discover that our devotion to the world around us is flagging.

In a survey we at the Harris Poll conducted last December, American adults said climate change was the number one issue facing society. Today, it comes in second to last on a list of a dozen options, ahead of only overpopulation. Among Gen X men, in fact, more than third dismiss climate change as unimportant. COVID-19 and the recession have, of course, reordered priorities around the world. Still, the coronavirus didn’t elbow aside other issues as muscularly as it did climate change. (Incidentally, global warming is a bigger concern to retirement-age women than any other age group except millennial men.) 

Additionally, we asked about policies the government could adopt to fight global warming or help the environment generally. There was majority support for only one of nine initiatives, with 51% endorsing tax credits or rebates for greater energy efficiency in buildings. Moreover, 13% of all respondents say the government should do nothing to improve the environment, a stance that rises to nearly one in five of all survey takers in the South.
More telling is what we are doing—or should I say what we no longer are doing.

We know from this survey, conducted on July 24, that American adults are burning less fuel than they did before the pandemic hit. In pre-COVID-19 America, 77% of adults said they used to drive. Today, with more people working from home, or not working at all, just 61% say they are using their cars to get around. Similarly, only 14% of adults say they are still flying, down from 21% last winter. That’s an environmental plus, since it means we’re pumping less greenhouse gas into the air.
But we are also reverting back to a society that throws too much away. Younger men in particular are ordering more takeout food, packed in single-use plastic bags and disposable boxes, often with those plastic straws scorned for littering the landscape and polluting waterways. We are toting reusable bags less often on errands. Probably because more of us are home, we also are consuming more energy to keep our homes cooler in the summer and warmer in chilly months than we used to.
And when the pandemic ends—or at least is suitably controlled—American adults say they’ll behave in ways that would increase their carbon footprint. According to our survey, we’ll drive as much as we did before, take public transportation less, bicycle or walk less, buy more clothes, and have more stuff packaged up and shipped to our homes. And most of us plan to jack up the home AC and heat even more than we already have.
Full story
2) Gallup Poll: Most Americans Rank Climate Change As Least Important Issue
Climate Change Dispatch, 7 August 2020
A plurality of Americans considers the Chinese coronavirus the most important problem facing the country, while climate change — an issue central to the Democrat Party’s agenda — remains among the lowest in importance, garnering just one percent, a Gallup survey released this week found.
The Gallup poll, taken July 1-23, among U.S. 1,007 adults, asked respondents, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?”

A plurality, or 30 percent, chose “coronavirus/diseases” as the most important problem, followed by “the government/poor leadership” (23 percent), race relations/racism (16 percent), “unifying the country” (six percent), and “crime/violence” (five percent).

Nine percent of respondents chose economic problems, which included the economy “in general,” unemployment, and the wealth gap.
Notably, “climate change/environment/pollution” — green issues central to the progressive agenda and embraced by Joe Biden — came at the very bottom of the list, garnering just one percent support.
Elections/election reform, poverty/hunger/homelessness, national security, education, and immigration also garnered just one percent support each.
Full post
3) Waning Attention To Climate Change Amid Pandemic Could Have Lasting Effects
University of Colorado at Boulder, 5 August 2020
Summary: With COVID-19 dominating the headlines, searches for climate change are on the decline. That worries authors of a new study showing that even brief, involuntary attention to environmental issues moves people to care more and act.

On Sept. 23, 2019, then-16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg stood before a sea of news cameras at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City and told world leaders: "People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing...How dare you continue to look away."

Within days, web searches for 'climate change' soared to levels not seen in years, and environmentalists cheered a new surge of activism. Fast forward to summer 2020: With a global pandemic monopolizing news coverage, searches around environmental issues have plummeted to new lows, according to Google analytics data.
This trend could mean serious trouble for the planet, suggests a new CU Boulder study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
"We found that simply directing your attention to an environmental risk, even momentarily, can make it seem more frightening and worthy of mitigation," said senior author Leaf Van Boven, a professor of psychology and neuroscience. "On the flip side, if you are not actively paying attention, the risk seems less dangerous and less important to address."
Previous research has shown that humans have a finite capacity for attention to risk, inherently programmed to prioritize one threat at a time. Rather than thoughtfully calculating how risky something truly is, humans tend toward "intuitive risk perception," or how something feels in the moment, Van Boven said.
"If a threat seems physically distant, far in the future, too abstract or if we are just too distracted to notice it, our perception of risk declines. Climate change is the prototypical example."

Full story
4) The Climate Left Attacks Nobel Laureate William D. Nordhaus
Benjamin Zycher, American Enterprise Institute, 29 July 2020
Having received the 2018 Nobel Prize in economics largely in recognition of his economic analysis of climate policy—in particular the development and application of the Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy (DICE) model—William D. Nordhaus now is under attack from the environmental left.

This emerging criticism of Nordhaus’ analytic framework is curious at a minimum. After all, is it not more study and analysis—more “science”—that the proponents of the “crisis” view of climate policy seek? The short answer to that question: decidedly not. Nordhaus’ work is careful and detailed. Like any serious body of analysis, it raises more questions than it answers—there is good reason, for example, to question several of the underlying assumptions—and DICE can be criticized on several fronts. The same is true for Nordhaus’ policy argument in favor of a carbon tax or other such pricing policies, a policy prescription much more questionable than often asserted. But Nordhaus’ absolute honesty and rigorous approach to economic analysis are beyond reproach, which is one general reason that he now is under attack even though he favors such policies as the Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with tariffs to be imposed on nations not participating.

For reasons summarized below, Nordhaus’ argument for an international “climate club” enforcing the Paris agreement is unlikely to prove workable. But that is not the central issue here. Instead, Nordhaus—by no stretch of the imagination a climate policy skeptic—is under attack more centrally because DICE has not provided answers consistent with the ideological demands of the climate alarmists, and Nordhaus has refused to bend to the political winds. In the DICE model under a wide range of reasonable assumptions, and even under many not plausible, climate policy cannot satisfy a benefit/cost test, and the same is true for the other two major integrated assessment models.

Accordingly, DICE provides no support for the ideological attack on fossil fuels, on the freedom that they facilitate, or for such “net-zero” policies as the Green New Deal. Notwithstanding the continued references to “science,” it is the bottom line in terms of climate ideology that motivates the environmental left. In that fundamental political context, DICE is worse than useless, which means that Nordhaus stands in the way regardless of his policy arguments.

Read the full report.
5) The Truly Gobsmacking Cost of Generating Offshore Wind Power
Stop These Things, 11 August 2020
Effervescent claims that offshore wind power is cheap have fallen flat.
When the rising capital cost of taking wind turbines offshore is accounted for, the power that they occasionally generate turns out to be the most expensive electricity of all, and by a very substantial margin.

A couple of years back in the UK, rent seekers’ claims about the falling cost of offshore wind power were lapped up by mainstream journalists and regurgitated ad nauseam.
Not all were convinced.
Indeed, the team at the Global Warming Policy Forum were sceptical from the outset. Now, having run the hard numbers, Gordon Hughes, Capell Aris, and John Constable are able to claim vindication. The true cost of offshore wind power is gobsmacking.
Offshore Wind: Definitely Expensive
The Global Warming Policy Forum
Andrew Montford
31 July 2020
Back in 2017, there was great excitement among environmentalists and the media, when it was announced that two offshore windfarms had bid remarkably low prices into the government’s Contracts for Difference auction, offering to supply electricity to the grid for around half the price that had been seen in earlier auctions.
How had this remarkable change in the economics of offshore wind power been achieved? Nobody really knew for sure, although eco-minded correspondents in the mainstream media were insistent that the change was real.

In a paper published shortly afterwards, Gordon Hughes et al. pointed out that there was little evidence that costs of offshore windfarms were falling at all. Indeed, they were generally rising, as developers moved into deeper waters in search of more reliable wind speeds. Even discounting factors like this, like-for-like costs seemed to be only falling slightly. There was absolutely no sign of revolutionary change. Defenders of the green orthodoxy argued that the Hughes analysis was backwards looking, and couldn’t take into account technological advances (although they never said clearly what these were).
In contrast, Hughes’ theory, outlined in a later paper, is that the low CfD bids are in essence a gamble on future electricity prices. He thinks that the developers are hoping that electricity prices will be so high by the time the windfarms come on stream in 2022 that they will be able to walk away from their CfDs and take the market price instead. There would be only small contactual penalties for doing so. Hughes et al. have continued to argue that the cost of offshore wind power remains very high to this day.
Full post
6) Greenland’s Summer Melt Season Set To Be Shortest For Years
Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 11 August 2020
After one of the latest starts to the summer melt in Greenland, it appears that the melt has pretty much finished a couple of weeks early as well.

In all likelihood, it will end up being the shortest melt on record, not that this will be reported.
As I reported a few months ago, the winter in Greenland had been unusually cold and dry, dominated by high pressure. As such, snow accumulation was below average. The late start to the melt season helped to claw back much of the snow deficit.
With deep low pressure systems set to dominate Greenland’s weather this week, we can expect to see the Surface Mass Balance (SMB) to be back to normal by the end of August.
Greenland summer temperatures depend mostly on the amount of sunshine received, not carbon dioxide. It therefore appears likely that this summer will be much cooler than usual, indeed similar to the cold , wet one of 2018.
7) And Finally: Greta Thunberg’s Message Of Doom Is Religion, Not Reality
Iain Martin, The Times, 30 July 2020

In January, the great and not so good of the corporate elite gathered at Davos for another telling off from Greta Thunberg.
“One year ago I came to Davos and told you that our house is on fire,” the climate activist reminded delegates. “I said I wanted you to panic.” In the intervening year they had not panicked enough, she said.
Although the meeting of the World Economic Forum was dedicated to creating a “Cohesive and Sustainable World”, and corporate culture has gone obsessively green, the naughty capitalists and greedy governments refused to end the use of fossil fuels instantly.
The rotters refused to extinguish commercial lifestyles to save the planet from imminent immolation.
Ironically, even as the high priestess of the Extinction Rebellion religion preached her sermon, Covid-19 was sweeping in from China and weeks later would shut down the world economy.
Since then we have all been treated to a live experiment in what happens when economic activity is cut by 25 percent.
While there are undoubted upsides and lessons to be learned about cleaner air in cities, the downside is looming mass unemployment, the ruin of the global aviation industry, and worsening health and educational inequalities.
This is not enough for Extinction Rebellion campaigners who want to go even further in shutting down activity.
Earlier this month, Thunberg set out in an open letter a list of demands that, if implemented, would make the economic effects of Covid-19 seem mild. Her co-signatories included assorted celebrities, activists, and, inevitably, Coldplay.
Climate catastrophists are clearly keen to get the alarmist show back on the road, perhaps because they have been eclipsed by the pandemic.
I am not someone who denies that protecting the environment is important. Cleaner air is required. When it comes to more efficient energy, less wasteful consumption, and rewilding our countryside, I’m all for it.
But the hysteria of the XR crew, amplified by the media, is counterproductive because it frightens people and could lead to panicked policy-making.
The risk is that overreaction by governments will turn voters against any kind of environmental policy. It need not be this way. With the intelligent use of technology and mitigation measures, mankind is more than capable of adapting to warmer conditions.
This is one of the points made in Bjorn Lomborg’s important new book False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.
Mr. Lomborg is a long-standing environmentalist regarded as a heretic by hardliners in the movement because he is an optimist who says that humanity is not doomed.
Global warming is happening, he says, but populations have been “scared witless” into thinking that it means the end of life on Earth.
“The rhetoric on climate change has become ever more extreme and less moored to the actual science,” he says. “The science shows us that fears of a climate apocalypse are unfounded. Global warming is real, but it is not the end of the world. It is a manageable problem.”
Lomborg advocates a “well-designed” carbon tax and reduced emissions but also more adaptation of the kind that, unheralded, is already happening. For 150 years sea levels have been rising and we have adapted by improving coastal protection.
We’re learning more about rivers and flood protection too. On heatwaves, economic growth will help to pay for better and more fuel-efficient air conditioning.
Cities can be adapted with more green spaces. Even something as simple as ensuring that roofs and roads are lighter in color — not black, which absorbs heat and warms urban areas — can make a difference.
For the sin of deviation from the apocalyptic consensus, The New York Times — woke bible and host of the Greta event at Davos in January — unleashed the eminent economist Joseph Stiglitz to lambast Mr. Lomborg, who has since responded with an amusing line-by-line demolition of Mr. Stiglitz’s claims.
But what may make the biggest difference to the debate is population decline.
A study published this month by the Department of Health Metrics Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle suggested that a declining global fertility rate would cause population levels to plummet from 2064.
Twenty-three countries including Japan, Thailand, and Spain will have their populations more than halved.
This threatens to undermine one of the foundations of climate alarmism: the assumption that there are too many ghastly people and, by breeding and consuming resources, we will all soon destroy Mother Earth.
The prospect of population decline could be bad news for the fundraising efforts of the Greta crew if it becomes clear that climate change is even more manageable than thought.
I doubt that hardline climate campaigners will for one second allow this to dilute the purity of their doom-laden message, though. They have founded a religion and anything that distracts from it is heresy.
In that respect, they have much in common with woke calls for a social justice revolution. The best parallel for both of these is perhaps with the 16th and 17th centuries and the spread of Puritanism, a campaign to purify worship and signal virtue.
As the more extreme Puritans knew, declaring the apocalypse — a simple message — is strangely seductive and exciting.
Once again, on climate, the less intoxicating and more cheeringly mundane reality is that human beings are ingeniously adaptive. We’ll find a way through if we all keep our heads.

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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