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Poll finds some Canadians skeptical when it comes to climate change, its causes

Last Updated Nov 30, 2018 at 7:08 am PDT

FILE: A tanker drops retardant while battling the Shovel Lake wildfire near Fraser Lake, B.C. on Friday August 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A new survey finds 10 per cent of Canadians believe climate change is just a theory that hasn't been proven

Angus Reid poll show there's political, generational divide when it comes to belief of climate change and its causes

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Despite devastating fires, floods and species extinction, some Canadians still don’t trust climate scientists.

The Angus Reid Institute’s latest poll suggests one in 10 Canadians believe climate change is a theory that hasn’t been proven. Another 20 per cent believe it’s caused by natural causes, and not human activity.

“It suggests to me that where we’ll see concentrations of that view, particularly in places like Alberta and Saskatchewan, that it does correlate strongly with political ideology. It also correlates with generational views,” Sachi Kurl with Angus Reid explained.

She says younger people are far more likely to be of the view that climate change is human-caused.

“If you’re older in this country, and particularly if you’re male, you’re more likely to have a more skeptical view of the causes of climate change.”

Kurl adds younger Canadians appear to be more panicked about the future than their parents; people asked between the ages of 18 and 34 said they are feeling the weight of the environment’s peril.

When it comes to political beliefs, she says “among past Conservative voters, they tend to be split between being of the view or the belief that climate change is a fact but caused by, essentially human-caused, and the same number of the view that climate change is a fact but it’s mostly caused by natural changes.”

(Courtesy Angus Reid Institute)

Angus Reid has also found there’s a “great deal of variation” depending on which province you call home.

In British Columbia, the Maritimes, and Quebec, for example, Kurl says people are more likely to say they have seen significant weather and climate changes where they live.

“Those numbers are highest in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Lowest in Saskatchewan and in Ontario… and in Manitoba, where lower numbers of people are saying that they have not seen climate change in their local communities, in their regions, where they live.”

(Courtesy Angus Reid Institute)

British Columbians are no strangers to wildfires, with the province seeing the devastating effects of them very recently. The effects were seen both in the communities where flames left homes and structures destroyed, as well regions not directly near wildfires. The Lower Mainland was clouded by a haze from wildfires burning across the southern interior for weeks at a time.

“That is the type of thing that people notice. Again, where we tend to see some differences and some disconnect comes down to whether people are of the view that these changes to local climate and these changes to temperature are the result of human activity, industrial activity, carbon emissions, or whether they’re just sort of a natural phenomenon.”

(Courtesy Angus Reid Institute)

Do people think anything can be done? Kurl says younger people are of the view that there is something they can do and that global warming and climate change can be reduced.

However, there is a divide when it comes to political views on this front.

“People who cast a ballot for the NDP or the Liberal party federally in the last election, much more likely to say that they think they can personally help reduce global warming, and that human kind has a role to play in reducing global warming.”

Those who tend to lean toward the more Conservative side, she adds, are generally of that view as well, but to a lesser extent.

-With files from Tim James