Apparent Paradoxes in the relationship of Climate ‘Concerns, Skepticism, Activism, and Priority’, explained by Religiosity

by Andy West

Explores the contrast between Allied and Core belief in the culture of climate catastrophe, and the relationships of these plus religiosity to Climate Change Activism (XR and Children’s Strikes for Climate). Post 2 of 3.


The opening post of this series demonstrated a strong correlation across nations between religiosity, and the responses per nation to unconstrained questions from a 2019 YouGov survey on attitudes to climate-change, which questions are aligned to Catastrophic Climate Change Culture (CCCC). Chart 1 below was shown towards the end of the prior post. Y axis values show the percentage of ‘a great deal’ responses to two climate survey questions: “How much of an impact, if any, do you believe climate change will have on your life?” (blue series), and “how much power, if any, do you think each of the following have to combat climate change?” sub-option, “International bodies (e.g. the United Nations)” (pink series).

I term the effect causing these trends ‘Allied Belief’ (ABel). They occur because the surface alliance between CCCC and religion, makes religious adherents feel comfortable with climate catastrophe narratives, as long as there are no reality constraints, thereby disabling their Innate Skepticism of CCCC. As religiosity rises within nations (going left to right), ISk about CCCC narratives falls, and so belief in said narratives rises. The pink series is muted, as it’s only needed to show lower gradient for less emotive / existential / personal questions. Note: ISk is an instinctive mechanism that is very different to rational skepticism. [Chart is simplified Chart 2 in SI datafile].

Constrained Belief and Core Belief

So, if we think of what we might call ‘standard belief’ in a culture, especially strong expressions of this such as we’re very familiar with from ardent religious adherents, or indeed regarding the case in point, those similarly committed to catastrophic climate culture, how would that look on the above chart and how does it differ from ABel? We can start with the fact that adherence of this kind doesn’t primarily occur via alliance; it’s a direct commitment, essentially to core cultural narratives (from which we can label it Core Belief, CBel) and one that survives clashes with reality issues. So, now it’s time to look at reality-constrained survey questions.

The orange series in Chart 2 plots results from a reality-constrained question, in fact the enormous 2015 UN ‘My World’ poll having ~10 million participants from many nations. In this case, constraint arises from having to rank 6 global threats out of 17 as the most important, with one being ‘action on climate change’. Note: the orange scale, the percentage vote-share for action on climate change from this poll, is smaller than the blue. Nations correspond vertically; in this chart (and above too) Taiwan and Hong-Kong are dropped as the UN poll doesn’t cover them, leaving 22 nations. [Chart is Chart 2yxA in SI datafile].

So, there’s apparent paradoxes here! Those nations expressing the highest concerns about climate-change (and inclusive of more faith in the UN to fix it), also express the lowest desire for ‘climate-change action’. And oppositely at the LHS. However, this fits fine with the underlying cultural mechanics. Also, it looks like there’s structure in the wide variability about the orange trend. Before saying more about these things though, we must continue to pursue CBel…

The orange series represents belief in a weakly-constrained circumstance (so I term that Constrained Belief, ConBel). There’s much variety in how surveys questions can constrain. For instance, even for commonly used issue lists: How many issues? How many to select out of them? Are they all genuinely felt concerns? How closely felt (e.g. national versus international, for the former, country relevant?). The SI (especially Footnote 4) provides detail. This will produce a range of constraint strengths. For a choice of X out of Y issues, constraint is stronger as X reduces relative to Y (so say, 1 out of 12 much stronger than 3 out of 12), commitment to the winning issue(s) has to be higher. National issues are stronger than global ones (closer to reality for most participants).

To find CBel, all we have to do is increase the constraint strength to ‘ultimate’ as it were. If people still believe in action on climate change above all other reality issues however strong, this indicates a direct belief in the narratives of catastrophe and salvation, which in their own terms and contrary to mainstream science, do outbid everything else. The snag is we can’t measure this, because there’s no survey with a consistent method of full constraint across many nations (that I’m aware of). But we can estimate it, and we can also box the estimate in via nearby measurements.

Hence I add a series (red) to Chart 2, which represents those still choosing climate-change in a strongly-constrained (but not fully) survey over 16 of the 22 nations (most I can get). And I add some spot-points for much smaller surveys on a few European nations (red crosses), that are fully constrained. This gives Chart 3 below, on which I also place an estimate of CBel (bold-orange). Note: for clarity only the trend of the red series is shown. The orange series above, on expanded RH Y axis, is also reduced to just its trend. [For full details, data, r/r2/p, survey-sources, see Chart 3yxA of datafile and Section 3 of expanded post].

A very straightforward estimate of CBel is obtained by dividing the UN Poll vote-share for action on climate-change (orange series in Chart 2) by 6; the reasonable assumption of evenly distributed votes on the selected issues means this is how many would have chosen that option as their top priority. While being asked to make that top single-choice directly is a different context, which may skew the estimate somewhat, it is below the red trend and with ~proportional gradient as we expect, plus the red actual measurements (crosses) at the LHS, do straddle the estimate. The latter hint the estimate is a little high there, however I take the bold-orange trend as my CBel going forward.

On a single chart we now have ABel (with muted-pink showing how it tracks when weaker), and CBel (equivalent to full strength ConBel, with muted-red plus orange showing how it tracks when weaker). It’s worth noting that as core believers will be affirmative to all climate-change issues / concerns, the ABel trends are actually inclusive of CBel too, albeit the latter is very much smaller across most of the chart.

ConBel / CBel underlying mechanism

So, back to that apparent paradox noted above. A reality-constraint has two effects on climate-change attitudes. Firstly, the issue is forced down to Earth so to speak, robbing a great deal of the emotive power in climate catastrophe narratives. At the same time, cost and consequence is introduced wrt all the other important issues that are needful in our societies, in turn challenging existing personal value-sets that are set within the context of those societies.

Although the UN poll constrains pretty weakly, the loss of emotive power / alignment to CCCC narrative is enough to dissolve the subconscious reassurance in religious folks that this cause is truly allied to their values, to their faith. Presumably, they don’t subconsciously feel the oft-proclaimed alliance any longer. Hence their ISk, which had been disabled by this reassurance, springs into action. As religious adherents have strongly focused cultural values to defend, which are now challenged by the societal consequences / costs, their ISk comes in big.

Real-world implications: Policy and Climate Activism

Subconsciously biased communicators for or against climate-change issues / support, can find comfort and claims at various places on Chart 3 trendlines. This increases confusion about what publics actually think, and cultures can take advantage of confusion. I’d be surprised though if communicators have any inkling about the global role of religiosity; no doubt they’ll see what they want to regarding motivations both ‘good’ and ‘bad’. However, a huge problem for CCCC adherents within irreligious nations, is that innate skepticism of any narratives that veer too much towards the existential / emotive, especially with any personal angle, is huge. Yet cultures don’t work rationally and propagate / amplify such narratives at every opportunity, turning off a big majority of people even as they also gain adherents. Similarly, any real-world strong constraint such as the sacrifice of petrol cars or gas heating, is likely only to achieve CBel levels of support at best. Though all trendlines change with time too (CCCC is growing) even the more modest sacrifices won’t likely get support beyond the strongly-constrained (red) trendline– if the real-world clashes are properly communicated / realized, which may not necessarily be the case.

[Note: the huge new reality-constraint of COVID-19 will highly likely squeeze the thick orange line down still further wrt other priorities; minimal fervent believers only, albeit this effect could evaporate after a year or two. Cultures are typically very robust to such damage, and may even find ways to turn adverse conditions into advantage longer-term].

This leads to enormous frustration for core believers within irreligious countries, but far less for those in religious countries where support will often seem very high (albeit being from ABel, it’s ephemeral). So regarding Climate Activism, we expect this to occur most in nations at the LHS of Chart 3, where core believers are defending their existential culture from the great majority of non-believers; and for cultures as for armies sometimes, attack (aggressive proselytization, civil disobedience) is a good form of defense. In very religious countries, there’s far less apparent need to rail against society, and less core believers to start with in order to maintain activism. So, we expect proportionally high activism at left, to low at right.

As explained in the SI, for any route attempting to demonstrate that climate activism conforms to this pattern, available data seems far-from-ideal. I went with the route of sampling Extinction Rebellion and Children’s Strike Weekly presence across nations, from their respective websites.

Extinction Rebellion conformance to expectation

I split the XR data into tiers, with Tier 3 the highest presence (>0.5 groups per million population), Tier 2 next lowest (>0.1 groups/M), Tier 1 non-zero, and Tier 0 with zero presence. [For how / why / details, see SI expanded post Section 5 and Footnote 6]. These Tiers mapped onto the main ABel / CBel trends in Chart 4 below, do show the highest XR presence Tier (dark-green) at the leftmost side, and the second-most presence Tier (mid-green) covering the next few nations to the left. Excepting Qatar, which happens to have 1 XR group and a very low population, a lucky T2-score. The XR presence for Tier 1 is far lower, figures in pale green show fractions of the presence in Italy, the least represented nation in Tier 2. Given the rough data, this is at least consistent with motivational expectations from above.

Implications for youth, and Children’s Strike conformance to expectation

The top-ten ranking of Children’s Strike Weekly (CSW) events (as a ratio of national population) per nation, is mapped onto Chart 4. See the numbers trailing the nation name-labels (1=highest). Once again, this ranking picks out the leftmost nations, matching the section 4 expectation, albeit nations are ordered differently within the top-ten. The data is likely too rough to expect exact correspondence (of CSW to XR rank per nation, or of either to the exact trend prediction). However despite this, it’s noticeable that Spain and Italy seem rather far rightwards / religious to achieve CSW scores of 4 and 5 respectively, which brings us to an issue specific to youth.

In Western nations where religion is receding (occurs in all the top-ten CSW rankers), young adults are considerably less religious than older adults. While there are very few surveys involving children, this rule presumably extends downwards in age, given this is where young adults recently came from. So at the national level, children will behave as though they come from a nation rather to the left on Chart 4 of their actual home nation. Which is to say, as a group having more CBel and more climate activism, yet simultaneously less ABel so more skepticism. However, an issue with the ABel side of this is, as noted within this previous post, children are primed to pick up cultural templates (as provided by CCCC), but may not have developed a balancing ISk (yet, or ever). So, children’s CBel may be even more amplified.

The religiosity gap separating children and adults can also be different per nation, which will explain at least some CSW ranking changes relative to XR, also to any data reflecting mainly adult attitudes. Based upon projection from young / older adult data, Spain does indeed have an unusually big gap. This would explain Spain’s high CSW ranking. However, the same doesn’t hold for Italy, unless a similar strength effect for children hasn’t yet surfaced as they mature to adults. [See SI Footnote 7 and datafile for CSW details / data / source, plus Footnote 8 for religiosity gap].

The variability within ConBel / estimated CBel: GDP-per-Capita

As noted in Section 2, variability about the UN poll ConBel / CBel trend (all orange series in Chart 2/3), is significantly larger than for the (opposite direction) ABel trend (blue). To investigate this further (is it noise? something systemic? something to do with individual faiths?), I created Chart 5 below. This adds many more nations from the UN poll (but not covered by the main Climate Survey). The Y scale happens to match estimated CBel.

The chart is split into 4 main religio-regional blocks, a) to d), within which further subdivisions (religio-regional groups) are color-coded. Several of the latter overlap inside c), so I’ve assisted the eye with line connections for a couple of groups. Note: greyed-out nations are too unique or too far from any others to associate in a religio-regional group. [See Chart 5yx in SI datafile for full data].

This representation helps show the regional rather than Faith-related nature of our evolution away from religion, albeit some regions / Faiths essentially correspond. Hence, we will see regionality in attitudes to climate-change that result from the interaction of religion and CCCC. The variability about the main trend is so large it can’t be contained, so to speak, by some of the less sizeable Faiths or regions. Meaning that looking exclusively inside either, the main trend may not just appear weak, but non-existent or reversed. However, it’s clear from this depiction [and a comparative Faiths only color-coding, see SI datafile Chart 4yx] that the variability isn’t caused by Faiths or regionality either. So, where does it from?

It turns out that a lot of the variability is coming from GDP-per-Capita ranking (GDPpCR). 9 of 13 (not greyed out) nations forming the bottom-most band of the trend are below low (high number) GDPpCR thresholds per group [and for a) and b), per block too]. There’s also some highest (low number) GDPpCR nations per group on the uppermost edge, plus an upper threshold in block a). [SI Footnote 10 has detail on the GDPpC aspect]. Likely, the remaining variability is noise.

So, for a given religiosity, the publics of less-wealthy nations (lower GDPpCR), are even less disposed to transfer any serious cultural allegiance from their religious faith to CCCC. This is opposite to what one would expect if these publics were clamoring for more climate-change $ from richer nations, albeit some governments may be. The more pressured financial circumstances will sharpen reality-constraints still further, leading to still more ISk and less conversions into Core Belief. Such cultural mechanisms easily outbid a dream of filtered down $.

The number trailing the name-label of nations towards the top-left in Charts 4 & 5, is the national Electric Vehicle sales ranking. The next post covers cultural expectations for these figures.

Affirmative Public attitudes to Climate-Change are cultural not rational

The positions of nations on the various trendlines shown here represent the most affirmative attitudes to climate-change issues, and are all due to cultural not rational responses. Even the secondary GDPpCR angle that causes variation about the ConBel / CBel trend, is only the exacerbation of a cultural factor. These positions aren’t due to climate science or policies or the potential exposure of particular nations to any actual climate impacts. Knowing only national religiosity, allows a reasonable prediction of these CC affirmative attitudes, albeit for reality-constrained questions GDP-per-capita also sharpens the prediction. Prediction isn’t a goal in itself, but if verified and accurate, valuably confirms what’s actually happening.

For the religious (so mainly as revealed in religious nations), CCCC appears to be perceived as potentially competitive; their deep values aren’t shifting to it despite a cozier surface alliance clearly strong enough to disable their Innate Skepticism. Within irreligious nations, CCCC appears to be partially filling the recent cultural vacuum. All this leads to apparent paradoxes. In highly religious nations, the most climate concern lives simultaneously with the least priority, each dependent only upon the survey question types; maximum activism occurs within those nations having the most skepticism and so the least concern about climate-change in unconstrained questions. Yet as explained above, these paradoxical attitudes do follow the logic of cultural mechanisms.

Table 1 below summarizes the overall pattern of responses to ‘Strongly-Framed’ questions, i.e. reality-constrained questions where the constraint is better than ‘very weak’, or unconstrained questions where the emotive / existential / personal alignment to CCCC is better than ‘very weak’.

The final post shows that even affirmatives to Weakly-Framed climate survey questions, such as those encountered in the first post of this series, produce cultural not rational responses, albeit non-linear wrt religiosity. It also looks at elite attitudes and consequent policy penetration, plus further at the influence of youth, before summarizing the provisional findings across the whole series.

Admin notes

There are 3 posts in this series, all of which have the same style of Supplementary Information, which consist: 1) an expanded post, 2) a footnotes file, and 3) an Excel datafile. The text below is a streamlined post version, geared to get the concepts across more readily and uncluttered regarding side-issues, detail on methodology, intricate depth, path my exploration took etc. For folks who want more, the expanded post is ~4700 words. Be aware that the footnotes file, also having various external references, relates to the expanded post (though a couple are pointed at below). Likewise, all the chart IDs within the Excel datafile are numbered for the expanded post. However, all sources / data for the charts below can easily be found (I provided SI IDs in the text). The datafile includes various extra charts too.

Footnotes [Footnotes

Data File [Datafile ]

Extended post [ Extended Post

58 responses to “Apparent Paradoxes in the relationship of Climate ‘Concerns, Skepticism, Activism, and Priority’, explained by Religiosity

  1. The text below is a streamlined post version, geared to get the concepts across more readily and uncluttered regarding side-issues, detail on methodology, intricate depth, path my exploration took etc. For folks who want more, the expanded post is ~4700 words. Be aware that the footnotes file, also having various external references, relates to the expanded post (though a couple are pointed at below). Likewise, all the chart IDs within the Excel datafile are numbered for the expanded post. However, all sources / data for the charts below can easily be found (I provided SI IDs in the text). The datafile includes various extra charts too.

    In the immortal words of Sir JohnMaddox FRS, “THAT’S ENOUGH–Ed.”

  2. Should get you your Phd from Prager U, this one!

    • C’mon Bruce, Judith asked you a legitimate question in the previous post. What are your bona fides? Thrill us with your acumen. You disappeared so quickly before.

      • and I told her as you – what exactly does that have to do with it? I am not the person presenting to the gullible public any pretense of expertise, but Andy West is. What I am doing is what every public should do – demand an accounting of their professional bonafides.

        Of course he could submit his work for peer review, but for the skill domain that certainly isn’t Judith Curry either. She couldn’t validate the work if her life depended on it.

        Anyway as I said, I hope Andy lucks out with his next box of “Prager U cereal” because thats how they dole out Phd’s at that outfit

      • Bruce, Andy is presenting a new hypotheses and some new ideas, that are of relevance to Climate Etc. We are discussing them here. This is what blogs are for.

      • bruce, bruce

        We sympathize with your outrage over this affront to your elevated sense of whatever. We are also sorry about your own lack of credentials and credibility. So, your binky is in the mail.

      • Over the last 10 years my interest has been the social psychological dynamics of the global warming issue as much as the physical science. In this case, I’m captivated that an apparently well educated adult would collapse into hysterics like a newly dumped 14 year old teenie bopper because a post doesn’t meet some preordained standards. I could think of 1000 topics that are a greater threat to the sustainability of our civilization than this. It’s there to allow people to think about the subject matter.

        I’m glad you don’t live in my neighborhood. You’d probably whine about how I mowed my lawn.

    • Well Judith what “ideas” are you going to discuss next? The gravitational pull of the moon on attitudes to covid 19 responses?

      Love to see you peer review that too. Or is that why you are blogging in the first place – to conveniently side step any authentic peer review with some sort epistemological trespass ethic? I think they sell licences for that same place Trump got his “Gut hunch” ticket.

      • The quickest way to land in permanent moderation here is to question my motives, without any evidence.

      • I could recommend a better place to put this pompous anonymous character assassin, but I don’t want to land in mod.

  3. Russell Seitz

    Last time Andy picked 28 out of 190 nations, and discarded the rest to cut the world down to the size of his global hypothesis.

    He promised to deal with twice as many in Part 2, but such luck– he’s down to 16 out of 190, or 8.4%:

    ” in a strongly-constrained (but not fully) survey over 16 of the 22 nations (most I can get). And I add some spot-points for much smaller surveys on a few European nations (red crosses), that are fully constrained.

    This gives Chart 3 below, on which I also place an estimate of CBel (bold-orange). Note: for clarity only the trend of the red series is shown.

    The orange series above, on expanded RH Y axis, is also reduced to just its trend. [For full details, data, r/r2/p, survey-sources, see Chart 3yxA of datafile and …”

    Why doesn’t he publish this somplace where it would raise the tone, The Americsn Thinker perhaps ?

    • hmmm… rather selective. Chart 5: ‘for 48 nations’. As noted last time, your stance that any study which uses ‘religiosity’ or indeed studying any cultural beliefs, must address all nations upon Earth in order to achieve any validity, is ridiculous.

      • Curious George

        How do you justify the exclusion of cannibalistic cultural beliefs?

      • George: Is this a serious question? Even where cannibalism is reputedly still practised (may coincide with a couple of nations covered), this is a vanishingly small portion of relevant national populations, which won’t impact anything whatever they believe. In practice, if they answer affirmative to ‘is religion important in your daily life’, they *won’t* be excluded, cannibalism generally having a religious/spiritual context. Chart 5 in the post (and compare the ‘faiths only’ colour-coding in similar chart in the Extended Post and Execel file), shows what all the main Faiths are per nation. These dominate numbers, but as can be seen both the correlations and anti-correlations shown are consistent across any Faith anyhow. Why on Earth do you think something explicitly needs to be said about this?

      • P.S. nor are they excluded from the 10 million participants who responded to the UN Poll used for Chart 5. You never know, may have got one or two hits, but I doubt they will make much of an impact!

      • Curious George

        I meant to emphasize that cannibalistic cultural beliefs are in multiculturalism as good as any other beliefs, and if you dare to disagree, you are a racist.

      • Sorry George, it went straight past me. My sarc scanner has always been a bit dodgy.

      • Russell, I didn’t ‘promise’ anything. I pointed out in post 1 comments that one of the surveys (supporting the second relationship between CCCC and religiosity) in post 2, covers 48 nations. And it does. This post also has another survey supporting the same relationship, which covers 16 nations.

  4. They have been waiting for this opportunity to put on a flamboyant display of their alleged intellectual superiority. Easy target.

  5. Pingback: Apparent Paradoxes In The Relationship of Climate ‘Concerns, Skepticism, Activism, and Priority’, Explained by Religiosity - The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

  6. Andy West ==> I have some trouble with your findings — on a personal level. I majored in Religious Studies in University — and to my understanding, very few major religions adhere to a catastrophic end view of the world. In fact, a strong belief in a catastrophic end for the world is a hallmark of cultic fringe groups — not the religions that spawned them.

    One mustn’t confuse biblical accounts of the end of times with a general belief of bible following religionists. For standard Christians (a rare item that, as Christian beliefs are so varied and conflicting) the End of the World/Second Coming is a joyful and triumphant occasion — to be looked forward to and not feared at all.

    In my view of world religions, belief in a man-made catastrophic end would be contrary to the their core belief systems.

    In my view of world religions, belief in a man-made catastrophic end would be contrary to the their core belief systems.

    PS: It is very possible that I have not really grasped the terms that you use in this series…. :-)

    • Hi Kip: No assumption is made regarding details about how Christians (or any of the other Faiths) interpret the narratives of catastrophic climate change. The only assumptions are what can clearly be seen in the public domain, or indeed what is measured as shown by the various charts. See the Footnotes file of the first post in the series regarding strong public statements supportive of climate change narratives from all the main Faiths (and various smaller ones too). Per my proposition regarding the underlying cultural mechanics, the robust correlations with religiosity regarding responses to unconstrained questions, occur due to this surface ‘alliance’ from such a stance of the faiths, which disables their innate skepticism to CCCC. And the anti-correlations from reality-constrained questions occur when it is enabled again by the reality clashes. It could well be that the latter occurs because indeed as you note, when it comes down to it, adherents don’t commit to what they see as a competitive (secular) religion with an (incompatible to their own) catastrophe story. I point out this competitive aspect. However, we don’t need to know this level of detail to see from the charts that both the correlations and anti-correlations are very robust indeed and occur across all faiths. See Chart 5 and the equivalent ‘faiths only’ chart in the Excel file. If you don’t buy my cultural explanation, this is fine, but you’ll need a plausible alternative for both the correlations / anti-correlations of the responses to unconstrained / reality-constrained questions.

      • Andy ==> It may well be an issue of “What Are They Really Counting?

        What I mean by that is that your analysis may be perfectly valid, even important, but may be a study of exactly what you say it is a study of: The results of survey questions and their answers.

        As for statements of major religions on climate change…..these no more reflect the beliefs and attitudes of the members of those religions than the statements issued by the ruling councils and boards of professional organizations reflect the beliefs and attitudes of the members of those professional organizations — members who were not polled or even asked about the issue. No knowledgeable person believes that the Pope actually speaks for the average Catholic (ref birth control). Neither the Hindus nor the Buddhists have any sort of central authority that can even pretend to speak for the faithful. Islam is fragmented into sects and cultures and likewise has no living, current central authority.

        Thus, if your study is based on the premise “Catholics believe according to the statements of the Pope”, you’ve been led astray. They demonstrably do not personally believe as the Pope dictates — on many issues much more related to Catholic doctrine than Climate Change. The same applies to the millions of Hindus and the millions of Buddhists, and Muslims — who do not believe in a central doctrinal authority at all……

        But your study can still be perfectly valid, as long as we acknowledge that it is a study of survey question answers and not a study of the real beliefs and any real people.

      • Andy ==> On the point of Declarations by religions . . . .see the document that accompanies the Hindu Declaration: “Hindu Declaration on Climate Change — Launch Annoucement

        These have been cooked up by activists in preparation for one of the UN meetings. I quote from the above:

        “This Declaration (full text and list of signatories at follows similar documents issued by Islamic leaders (18 August), 154 Christian and other religious leaders (22 October), Presidents of Regional Catholic Bishops´Conferences (26 October), Buddhist leaders (29 October) which followed the Pope´s Encyclical of June 18 calling for massive global action to slow climate change and deal with its impacts.(Faith declarations are to be formally presented to the COP 21 presidency and participants under arrangements to be announced shortly.)”

        “The Declaration is an initiative of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies / Bhumi Project, in partnership with the Hindu American Foundation the interfaith environmental organisation GreenFaith and the interfaith campaign for climate action OurVoices.”

        With the possible exception of the Pope’s message, the rest are a contrived frauds on their own people.

      • Kip,

        “What I mean by that is that your analysis may be perfectly valid, even important, but may be a study of exactly what you say it is a study of: The results of survey questions and their answers.”

        Which is why I related it to verification from some real-world behaviours, see the sections on XR and Children’s Strike presence, plus (next post) policy penetration, which all indicate very much that the results are just as valid for real-word action as for survey responses.

        “As for statements of major religions on climate change…..these no more reflect the beliefs and attitudes…”

        I didn’t say this was the case, or that the survey assumes it. The behaviours charted act exactly the same (for both the correlation and anti-correlation categories) across all the Faiths. So clearly, some very basic cultural mechanisms are at work, which generically underlie all details of (often very different) faith-based narratives. These I have focused on, and typically as you note regarding the detail of public statements by high-flying leaders etc, individual adherents don’t typically react to these except in average ways over longer timescales. Which is precisely why the reality-constrained questions expose the difference between a ‘default’ surface / trivial alliance that is nevertheless frequently and often expressed in public as generally supportive, and the more committed beliefs that actually reject this alliance among adherents. The surface public statements only need to be enough to disable innate skepticism of CCCC, so even the Faiths *not actually opposing* CCCC should be enough for this for their adherents. And the measurements reflect exactly that; bear in mind too I went looking for these relationships armed with the proposal (regarding ISk) that they should be there.

        “Thus, if your study is based on the premise “Catholics believe according to the statements of the Pope”, you’ve been led astray.”

        Kip, it’s not based upon anything like this. I think it would be good for you to read the posts through and dig into the SI’s a bit 😊

      • P.S. on the surveys generally and ‘what they measure’ see a generic answer below:

        A question asked is: “How can you rely on these survey results, when public surveys are often poorly worded, ambiguous, biased (especially for socially conflicted topics such as climate change), or on occasion even outright manipulated?” This is the answer: “These ‘features’ are a only a problem in relation to the *normal context* of the surveys, i.e. a context which assumes answers will in the main be rationally related to the technical or policy issues that are being probed. But even with zero bias, for culturally-conflicted issues, this is simply not so. Ambiguous or loaded questions are not actually a disadvantage to what I’m seeking in these posts, in fact they are generally helpful in emphasizing what I am trying to uncover. For culturally-conflicted topics, as Dan Kahan puts it, publics don’t respond rationally based upon ‘what they know’, but as (culturally) ‘who they are’. Those pollsters who may pull some tricks of the trade to bend survey results to their preferred direction, or who are just subconsciously biased, don’t typically know this. IOW they don’t know at the fundamental level, *why* their tricks work. For my purpose, I am not relying on the surveys to tell me the kind of thing that the survey providers thought they might be measuring. I’m looking exactly for those ‘who they are’ responses, which represent the genuine reaction of people to all such questions in the first place. So to some extent I’m exploiting any ambiguity or bias questions may contain, which I know will actually *amplify* these cultural responses. In practice, even well-balanced objective / non-emotive (unconstrained) questions in climate surveys, appear to produce largely cultural responses; but not strong, so not linear with national religiosity (instead an ‘envelope’ covering drift between 2 weak cultural modes – post 3). This is hardly a surprise because publics simply aren’t climate literate, so aren’t armed in any case to provide any kind of rational response even to such objectivity (nor indeed could there possibly be a rational response to some of the question wordings). More emotive / personal / existential (unconstrained) questions (which elements generally creep in because of the above-mentioned bias, at whatever conscious or subconscious level), tend to produce much stronger (linear) responses, as do reality-constrained questions increasingly as the reality-constraint gets stronger (so it’s in the interests of CCCC bias to keep constraints low in the latter case, because correlation is negative). If it was the case that climate surveys were all perfectly / objectively / unemotively constructed, my task would be much harder, because winnowing out the resulting weaker cultural reactions is much more difficult, albeit in the end rationality does not really meaningfully contribute to the responses of *any* of the questions studied here, of any type or strength. So, I’m very glad that questions typically aren’t like this. The robust nature of correlations (unconstrained questions) and anti-correlations (reality-constrained questions, and notwithstanding structural variability around trend), with religiosity, bears out the nature of the cultural reactions I figured should occur.”

      • Andy ==> On the point of Declarations by religions . . . .see the document that accompanies the Hindu Declaration: “Hindu Declaration on Climate Change — Launch Annoucement”

        Kip, I already read it, and quite a few of the others.

        “These have been cooked up by activists in preparation for one of the UN meetings.”

        Of course they are. All cultural narratives are emotive fictions cooked up in various different ways to hook our emotions. In the vast majority of cases, those doing the hooking are already hooked themselves; this is how cultures enslave intelligence. Just like for the answer on surveys above, this hugely amplifies the cultural reactions to them (both for adherents and also the innately skeptical who oppose), in *both* cases at the expense of rationality. [Innate skepticism is nothing to do with rational skepticism and is instinctive]. It is precisely *because* of these types of pedigree that the prompted behaviours occur; if all the narratives were true and logical and objective they wouldn’t represent their cultures, or only very thinly so, and both in responses to surveys and regarding real-world action, there’d be far less to see regarding what the charts here clearly show. IOW the proposals assume this kind of thing is pretty ubiquitous, and indeed it is.

      • Andy ==> Let me respond by saying that I am not arguing or contesting your findings….I’m just not sure about what it is you’ve found.

        I do think you’ve found something culturally interesting — I’m just no sure it has anything whatever to do with Religiosity — it may well be some other unidentified underlying cultural trait that also trips the Religiosity meter in a similar way…. as you put it in one of your responses “some very basic cultural mechanisms are at work” — I’ll have to wait for your Part 3 and dig into it.

        Keep up the good work….

      • Thanks, Kip.

        “I do think you’ve found something culturally interesting — I’m just no sure it has anything whatever to do with Religiosity”

        Well the X-axis in all charts for the robust correlations and anti-correlations is indeed religiosity. In the sense that secular cultures work just the same as religious ones, the relevant characteristics could indeed be common. But the point is that it is manifested here through religiosity, for indeed the way that scale is derived could hardly be simpler, or more independent of any particular faith details, or confusion with any other culture. So the fact cultural basics are at work here, does not mean they’re expressed through anything other than religiosity (regarding that axis). In the footnotes for post 1 and 3 there’s some discussion about ruling out IHDI (well-known to anti-correlate with religiosity, and roughly why), but religiosity is the common driver of IHDI (long-term) and the effects seen here. If you can find any plausible candidate that could produce both the correlations AND anti-correlations, that is an alternative to my explanation (for instance per your comment driving religiosity in relation to climate beliefs, in both ways), I’ll be impressed. Meanwhile, while withholding judgement is absolutely fine of course, I think that you might acknowledge the possibility that religiosity *is* indeed the relevant variable, unless you already have a very good reason indeed why not ;) Digging is good :)

      • Andy ==> One last comment and Ill let you get on with it.

        I’m not all all sure, not at all convinced, that “religiosity” is a national trait that can meaningfully be measured — almost certainly not in the Americas or Europe, definitely not in China (where religious expression is forbidden, therefore undiscoverable, despite lots of evidence of religious belief among the people), the rest of “Chindia” is equally questionably measured.

        That said, I will await the final chapter and then try to wade through it all in one piece — there is something there — I agree. But what?

        The Kip’s Jury is still out.

      • “I’m not all all sure, not at all convinced, that “religiosity” is a national trait that can meaningfully be measured…”

        The simplicity of how the scale is derived makes it very widely applicable. See footnotes for post 1, which discusses this scale, various much more complex academic scales, and relevant issues. Yes for Far East religions especially, appropriate translation of the term is needed, but survey providers have been used to this for many years now. I wouldn’t expect any nation where is religion is suppressed by a one-party state to conform to the simple rules here, and indeed Vietnam fails for I think this reason. (This doesn’t mean you can’t work out the replacement cultural dance, but it’s less straightforward and needs data that probably isn’t available). China is not addressed, here, and indeed for precisely the reason that there’s not a religiosity figure available within the sources I’m using, but would almost certainly fail like Vietnam. Having said all this, the first relationship between CCCC and Religiosity covers 24 nations, the second relationship 48 nations, and 22 are common to both. These includes nations from different world regions and political systems and ethnicities that also stretch across (mainly) Christian (Cath and Prot), Islam, Buddhist and Hindu, and some mixed-religion nations, maintaining robust correlation (and anti-correlation for the second relationship). While no doubt the religiosity scale could be improved, would you really expect these correlations, which most social studies would die for, to actually get *worse* if the scale improved?

        “The Kip’s Jury is still out.”

        Fair enough :)

  7. For purposes of this study, ‘religiosity’ obviously is a key variable, no? Assuming, ‘yes,’ this study looks at the relationship of how a relative degree of a belief in something unprovable can help us understand belief in the AGW hypothesis, no?

    • Wagathon, kind of, but I wouldn’t put it that way. The things that religions purport to be about (and hence whether such things as set out in their core narratives are provable or not), are not what religions are actually about at all. They are in-group recognition and reinforcement systems that have well-known generic behaviours and characteristics (as all strong cultures are). In this sense the details of their narratives are irrelevant, except in that they promote emotive commitment *and are necessarily always fictions*. Two strong cultures in prolonged contact will react to each other, and it is the nature of the reaction between religious faith and catastrophic climate-change culture, across national populations as charted here, that helps us to better understand the latter. The CCCC core narrative, i.e. a certainty of imminent catastrophe, is of course also fiction, which can not only be deduced from the heavy cultural policing around it and other such usual features, but that it directly contradicts mainstream science (not to mention skeptical science too). Caveat: this all relates to the public domain, not the enterprise of science, which surveys / measurements typically don’t cover anyhow.

      • P.S. one of the things that this helpfully informs us about, per the XR and Childrens Strike sections above, is which countries Climate Activism will be most prevalent in, and why. Ditto (next post) for policy penetration.

    • Seems there could be sort of a disconnect here in that, the AGW hypothesis is unprovable and unverifiable but if we simply assume a resultant human-caused climate change would be an undesirable, avoidable threat, no matter how improbable that belief may be, how are we helped if ‘religiosity’ also means that all ‘corrective’ actions we might possibly take — like adoption of nuclear energy — will simply be viewed as other threats we also must avoid instead of, being an achievement? The reason I bring this up is because it’s my belief, that ‘religiosity’ has evolved over the existence of humanity to deal with real not imagined threats and wouldn’t exist if it had zero utility. So far, global warming alarmism has no demonstrated utility whatsoever.

      • Wagathon, you raise a really interesting point: ‘The reason I bring this up is because it’s my belief, that ‘religiosity’ has evolved over the existence of humanity to deal with real not imagined threats and wouldn’t exist if it had zero utility. So far, global warming alarmism has no demonstrated utility whatsoever.’

        Religion, the main / early example of strong cultures, did indeed evolve because it is a *net* benefit (which doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides). And it evolved over such a long time (simple cultural behaviours predate humans), that we are still very subject to the behaviours it promoted (due to bio-cultural evolution, it’s actually in our DNA as well as just social factors). But you are thinking in the wrong scale; it didn’t evolve to face specific real threats, it evolved to keep us together in groups which (literally in the case of religion), keep us singing off the same hymn-sheet. And the only way to keep very large groups together which such coordinated action, especially in the face of the unknowable (and practically everything used to be unknown) is to have an entirely fictional and highly emotive hymn-sheet which bypasses our rationality. So IOW you need to think of the utility at an entirely different scale. The upsides of coordinated action still provide net benefit over generations, despite the main thing providing the glue is fiction. There’s actually mechanisms in us that ‘know’, at some subconscious level, that it’s fiction, which is why we don’t act as though it is literally true (and which is why behaviour seems hypocritical or like lying to those who aren’t adherents).

        The behaviour is so ingrained it just happens unless we constantly try to scrub it out (the law, science, democracy help keep it in check, but it’s a constant war, as culture can also corrupt all these). No-one knows whether such heavy behaviours are still a net benefit in modern times, but try to think of coordinating any large team without *any* corporate team-spirit or national pride or any of the rest, it’s simply not doable, we haven’t grown out of the cultural need yet. 1000 people using only rationality will have 1000 views.

        So all this behaviour is happening with CCCC because *it was* a big net advantage for eons, and for all we know still could be a (probably smaller) net advantage over all of humanities operations over many generations. But even if it still is a net advantage, there can be massive downsides. Just look at the culture formed by the combination of national socialism, anti-semitism and eugenics (authoratitive science backup) in the 1930s/40s. I don’t believe anyone thinks there was an upside to this specific culture. The balance is only at the very largest scale. Though I don’t think anyone would suggest CCCC was on this scale of bad, for sure it could well be net pretty bad on its own, but that doesn’t mean the evolved behaviours won’t continue to blindly follow their course; it’s what cultures do.

      • Very cogent Andy but, I still must throw a wrench in the works– ‘1000 people using only rationality will have 1000 views,’ as you say, and I offer proof of that: I think Jesus was a phony. That’s why I love the guy and probably at least as much as any bible-toting Baptist. I buy that kind of sincerity with my whole heart and that would define me as being religious. But I think global warming alarmism is a hoax and a scare tastic, e.g., nothing more than Left vs right politics and from that perspective, not really any different at all than the 1930s era German propaganda that was largely based on their religion. I think that is one of the main reasons why many believe global warming alarmism is more religion than science.

      • Wagathon,
        “I buy that kind of sincerity with my whole heart and that would define me as being religious.”

        The religiosity scale is based on affirmatives from global survey to ‘Is religion important in your daily life?”, merged with the inverse of the opposite angle from different survey ‘not a religious person’ and ‘not an atheist’ (reduces bias / noise and increases robustness).

        “I think that is one of the main reasons why many believe global warming alarmism is more religion than science.

        But whether or not my scale defines you as religious, cultural analysis says *nothing* about individuals. It can only say how populations statistically behave, and because these are distributions there will always be some individuals who can essentially buck any trend, and rather more but not a majority who still act less typically as defined by the main cultural trends.

        “I think that is one of the main reasons why many believe global warming alarmism is more religion than science.”

        For the *public* domain (the enterprise of science is not covered), the data presented in this series absolutely agrees with you that CAGW is such. Affirmative attitudes to climate change are entirely cultural, i.e. it is a ‘secular religion’, which is interacting with long established ‘real’ religions.
        However, this also rules out a ‘hoax’, because cultures work through largely subconscious mechanisms, whereas for a ‘hoax’ everyone involved (huge numbers) must be consciously lying. CAGW is no more a hoax than say Catholicism is a hoax; they both promote emotive fairy-stories which because of long evolved bio-cultural mechanisms, bypass our rationality.

        The big left-versus-right political aspect in the US is because the tribal public split in that nation has each adopted one side of the cultural conflict regarding CAGW (as it has on many other issues too), and this is why per post one the simple rules here don’t work for the US. They work wherever there’s a simple 2-way cultural dance between CCCC and religion, which appears to be nearly all the nations I’ve included here. In the US it’s a 4-way dance (Rep/Con + Dem/Lib being the other 2), and in Vietnam I think the one-party state repression of religion screws things. The data says the left/right thing isn’t enough to disturb things elsewhere, and indeed we know this anecdotally from some of the nations, e.g. the *conservative* government in the UK was the first in the world to legislate for net-zero, and in Germany the main push for climate policy was always from the right of centre, not left (Merkel used to be known as ‘the climate chancellor’).

      • Sounds like you do not believe the climate change establishment has deliberately fabricated falsehoods and passed them off as truth as, ‘distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences, and April Fools.’

      • Wagathon, given the size of that community, and the heavy emotive pressures leading sometimes to noble cause corruption (where lying etc most definitely does happen, but not because people don’t believe, rather because they believe so fervently, normal rules are broken in order to serve the cause), and others (freeloaders, frauds) jumping to leverage the various advantages that sponging off a major culture can bring, then for sure there are fabricated falsehoods, and worse. It would be infeasible for this not to happen given the size of the enterprise and the vast resources / money / people involved. But that ‘s very different to this being a *primary cause*. Freeloading can’t happen without something to freeload off. And there are very many examples of people lying, even lying systemically, that do not produce vast social phenomena such as CAGW has become; something much more than mere lies is needed. The main causal factor that makes the difference is cultural belief, which is subconscious. It’s the same say for the Catholicism, a vast enterprise based on emotive fictions that gain their leverage through the very same subconscious cultural mechanisms. But this doesn’t mean there hasn’t been over the passing centuries very significant freeloading and dishonesty, living kind of like parasites off the system, even at the very top on occasion. The Borgias spring to mind, and even in modern times those priests who flouted every rule and their supposed faith to engage inappropriately with children. But none of this means that Catholicism is at its heart a conscious (stretched over 2 millennia!) hoax, or indeed that the vast majority of both believers and priests aren’t completely honest in their beliefs and adherence. The (huge majority of) honest ones nevertheless still propagate all the emotive fictions.

      • Powerful response, Andy– you see the AGW alarmism phenomenon as sharing so much in common with religious beliefs that scientists who are closest to what I called a hoax, often cannot see, as Michael Crichton pointed out so well (back in 2012), that AGW is much like an apocalyptic doomsday faith that was borrowed from Christianity.

      • Wagathon, sorry reply dropped into moderation. Hopefully out soon…

      • Wagathon, yep, Crichton was right.

  8. Alan Cannell

    As per Dr Johnson: nothing sharpens the mind more than knowing you will hang in a week.
    So COVID is putting a lot into perspective and the “lip service” paid to CCCC as part of the liberal (US) lefty (UK) and esquerda caviar (Brazil) culture can be expected to take a nosedive. As the meme goes: my goal for this year is surviving, giving up drinking is for 2021.
    There are so many other variables involved: income, what kind of religiosity, guilt (hence the lip service); a desperate need to believe in something.
    The trends are what could be expected, but again, vary so much from place to place and culture to culture. Interesting food for thought.
    If I may ask a question: if CCCC appears not to be in the process of happening over the upcoming years, how would these groups be expected to behave?

    • Alan, actual physical climate change is on very long timescales, so the continued absence of catastrophe will by no means interrupt the cultural urgency + fear and hope (of salvation via net zero) that the culture generates. There are always ways to say why apocalypse is delayed. Covid is a curved ball for the culture as it is for us too, but cultures are adept at evolving around adverse conditions and even turning adversity into advantage (which is what is being attempted through ‘green recovery’ plus other narratives). So while I can’t predict what will happen any more than the next person, my bet is that CCCC will remain a major force for years yet and beyond covid recovery. How the relationship with religion evolves is another interesting question. The surface alliance that causes the correlating trends, turns into anti-correlation as soon as reality-constraint is introduced. So it seems to me that religion is soon going to meet a fork in the road, back the surface public statements with true commitment, or abandon the alliance as too costly and risky (could damage religion if CCCC goes down).

  9. Alan Cannell

    Taking Gaia as a ressurgence of the nature goddess (Ishtar – Easter – Freya etc. and to whom even Solomon gave up offerings), pollution is the new sin. Venal or otherwise, CCCC, killing off animals, burning forests and spreading microplastics like the plague.(or COVID) have a place in the deadly seven..

    Supposing that in the coming decade we have a few large volcanoes, a few cold snaps and a new variable for the modellers to worry about (for example, a growing body of evidence that the warm Miocene was partly caused by higher Patm and not just CO2), then the apocalyptic versions of CC will fade, Greta can go back to school and business will try to adjust to the new normal.

    I would expect that the rage would turn to other variants of the same sin based on, say, findings that micro-plastics cause hormonal damage or changes in kids.

    So you could say that the question is less of religiosity and more about the concept of sin.

    There is a line in a film on John Huston where the character (Huston) sets out to shoot an elephant and his writer claims its a crime, to which the retort is: its not a crime, its a sin; and that’s why I want to do it.

    With the pubs & bars closed its nice to have a good digital pub talk!

    • Alan, I have no better guesses than you about which of the environmental sins will capture most mind-share going forward. But if as you suggest there’s a bunch of volcanoes and cold-snaps, I wouldn’t put it past CCCC to evolve back to cold-apocalypse instead of hot-apocalypse. After all, it briefly passed through the cold version in the seventies, yet still taking some of the people with it through the tricky transition to hot (e.g. Stephen Schneider). Yes, even better than usual to talk while in lock-down!

  10. Alan Cannell

    On musings on sin and deity: if I remember from Joseph Campbell and others, all cultures post a certain age or develpoment have a belief system, for those without a formal religiosity, something almost had to fill the gap. Gaia is useful as it has a physical manifestation and is less mystical and individual, leading to a New Credo. Thus burning oil is a sin.
    Once a shared set of beliefs is held, the sinful and the heretics can be sent to the current version of the stake. (I think it is called be cancelled?)
    This allows your data to be viewed in a different light.
    A glossary at the top of each article would help as there is a lot of jargon that makes for heavy going….


    • “…for those without a formal religiosity, something almost had to fill the gap”

      Agree, there’s definitely an element in this of a ‘secular religion’ based upon climate-change / environmentalism, filling the vacuum left behind in the West by the decline of the traditional religions. Briefly mentioned in next post, but indeed this helps to understand why the trend-lines are as shown.

  11. Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  12. Andy ==> Not related to your Religiosity Series — but of interest — is this piece from Aeon — Peter Harrison “Why Religion Is Not Going Away and Science Will Not Destroy It” .

    • Kip:
      Thanks. Reasonable piece. Secularisation was never going to be a simple linear journey, nor all about science, albeit to be fair we have much more hindsight now to see that this isn’t so. And many scientists have, indeed still do, completely misunderstand the evolutionary purpose of religion and hence the depth of its entrenchment not just in our cultures but in our DNA (and Dawkins as usual, spearheads a misguided charge). However, they persist not because of politics as the article suggests near the end, but because of this entrenched depth. Hence an important element the piece misses out is that ‘secular religions’, which work on exactly the same mechanisms as their spiritual predecessors, have partially moved in to still satisfy these innate behaviours and fill the cultural vacuum left behind by the retreating spiritual / traditional religions. The culture of catastrophic climate change is exactly one such, and reacts with the older religious faiths as described by the trends shown within this series; one expects interactions to occur between strong cultures in prolonged contact, which is ultimately why I went looking for these trends. Note: if you look at Chart 5 in this post, you can see through the religio-regional colour coding (and comparing it to the ‘faith-only’ coding in the similar chart in the Excel data), that our journey away from religion is a *regional* one, not a Faith-based one, albeit some regions and faiths have significant correspondence, especially where they are smaller.

      • P.S. the above-mentioned retreat in many Western nations, is also for instance why both skepticism and climate activism are most prevalent at the LHS of the charts here – you may need to dig deeper in the SI than the post text here to get a fuller feel on this.

      • P.P.S. typing too fast and carelessly above, religions still persist because… not the proponents of science / religion conflict. Although I guess the one begets the other.

  13. I would recommend a significant improvement in the quality or readability of the graphics/charts. Most of them are rather difficult to read IMO.

    • Hi Bob, if you grab the Excel datafile linked at the bottom of the post, the charts are available in much higher resolution, along with their data.

  14. afonzarelli


  15. Religiousity includes the fact that natural processes act in a mathematically-chaotic, undetermined manner.
    So, I’m not surprised.