“For instance, we took the figures for the shrinkage of Arctic Sea ice and turned it into a profit statement of the fictitious Supreme Widget Corporation,” Dr Ballard said....
“In other tests we presented environmental data as if it related to a trade surplus, the population trends of rural towns, agricultural output, world lithium production, and global currency trade.
“In a blind test, economists and statisticians were then asked if they agreed with statements made about the trends of each situation.
“The idea is that climate change is so politicised that we need to decontextualise our statements so that people’s arguments are based not purely on politics, but on data instead.”
In the instance of comparing Arctic ice to the fictitious Supreme Widget Company, 52 participants had to say whether ‘profits’ (ice levels) between 1989 and 2009 had consistently decreased or had returned to health.
Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, used by both climate change deniers and believers, formed the basis of the question about Arctic ice.
“In general, participants rated popular arguments by climate change deniers as misleading if applied to a profit-and-loss statement or the other forms of data we presented to them,” Dr Ballard said.