Climate Change Skepticism — and its weird connection to Brexit


Okay, so that is kind of weird — but maybe this is all just a confound with Green politics — e.


Green Party is opposed to Brexit, supportive of immigration and presumably not keen on Trump.

Maybe if we control for how people feel about the Green Party the pattern would disappear?Here is the result of regressing all the variables in the British Election Study dataset (bar the other two variables mentioned above) against Climate Change Skepticism (Believes in Human Created Climate Change ← → Doesn’t Believe in Climate Change).

This is a very, very lazy approach (as above, if you want more details on how that graph was made/how to read it, partial explainer here)— I have not narrowed it down to a single wave so you can see the same question asked in different waves — but you can see how variables that *obviously are* confounds for each other (whether you like the Greens in 2017 as as well as 2016) suppress each other’s impact.

It is notable how much this reads like a list of lazy stereotypes (I stress again, this is an entirely automated process running on 6,800 variables) — Trump support, homophobia, rejection of foreign aid, rejection of experts, support for austerity, support for traditional gender roles, the belief that the UK will not have to concede anything to get full “Single Market” access.

And, of course, the Daily Mail readership!Clearly, culture war stuff (notable that there are party markers in there — but no left-right economic split).

The UK is not the US — you can see core Conservative vote bias towards Climate Change Skepticism — and a reflection among some Conservative elites (Matt Ridley/Nigel Lawson) … but I do not think you could argue that this is something created at the party level and disseminated to voters through partisanship.

Beyond noting that this is probably related — like attitudes to austerity, immigration, Trump, gender roles, homosexuality — to psychological dispositions *at least as much* as explicit ideology it is difficult to know what to do with this.

We know only two things for sure about those sorts of sentiments:They can shift really quicklyNobody knows precisely what it is that changes themEarly comments(well, comment) on this article raised the question of whether all these things were simply “Right” issues.

As per previous articles, it’s always ambiguous what people mean by “Right” — here’s the breakdown on the Political Compass (warning this chart is an experimental — as in “not very good yet” — approach to getting several overlapping distributions all on one graph by showing only the upper contours (peaks), the x’s mark the means of each category):Addendum — at Leo Barasi’s request, I’m adding regression breakdowns for enviroGrowth and enviroProtection (but I’m dropping variables relating to the Green Party):Worth stressing that these are quick runs (will schedule more in-depth versions to run overnight) and since I’ve excluded many of the best predictors these models explain only a minority of the variance … but gosh, it’s really starkUPDATE: Runs are now slow versions (R²/variance explained ~25–30% — not bad given we’ve stripped out all the Green Party variables)To be clear — and to preempt in some small part the scorn of statisticians — the purpose of these regression models is exploratory analysis.

There’s a not-wholly-unfair tendency among statisticians to view machine learning as statistics-without-the-professionalism — that’s true in the sense that machine learning models let people imagine they can skip the model generation/analysis steps.

But, so long as you view this as an in-exhaustive breakdown of “variables that are implicated”, you’re alright.

Believes Climate Change Happening and Caused By Humans ← → Believes Climate Change Not HappeningexpectAccess/negotiationSpecifics_None = the UK will get full Single Market access post Brexit(/without conceding anything)redistCon = where respondents would place the Conservative Party’s preference on redistributionlr3 = Ordinary working people do not get their fair share of the nation’s wealthMeasures to protect environment: Not gone nearly far enough ← → Gone much too farnonelecParticipation: 2=Signed a petition, 7=Bought/refused to buy product for ethical reasonshouseBuild … is missing from the British Election Study questionnaire pdf — correlates strongly positively with councilHouse … which also isn’t in the pdf!.Have to ask the BES team politely.

Economic Growth vs Environmental Protection: Economic growth should have priority ← → Protecting the environment change should have priorityGender split is interesting — also explains the pattern of the Authoritarianism scale predicting prioritising economic growth, but one element (al4 = censorship) predicting prioritising the environment because there’s a strong gender split on al4 (there’s an argument for dropping it from the al_scale)There’s an (albeit small) income effect for prioritising Economic Growth (profile_gross_household)Newpapers readership “None” effect hard to read — do *most* newspapers give you a reason to prioritise Economic Growth or is it something about *not* reading a newspaper?.(Note previous blog showed that non-newspaper-readers don’t deviate from general population in values)Python Notebook (Fairly legible).. More details

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