Skip to main content
Frequently Asked Questions
- What do these maps depict?
- The maps depict estimates of the percentage of Canadians (age 18 and over) who hold particular attitudes, perceptions, and policy preferences on the problem of climate change. The estimates were generated from a statistical model that incorporates actual survey responses from a large dataset of >5,000 individuals that have been collected since 2011. The actual survey responses were combined with demographic data from Statistics Canada to estimate opinions based on information such as gender, education and language; they also take into account changes in public opinion over time.
- Where do the survey data underlying the estimates come from?
- The data underlying the maps come from a large national survey dataset ( >5,000 respondents) collected between January 2011 and September 2015 by random digit dialing telephone surveys administered to landline and mobile phone listings. Reports from the individual surveys are available here: http://www.ericklachapelle.com/publications/.
- How accurate are the estimates?
- No model is perfect and there are uncertainties in the model estimates. The model uncertainties are smaller at broad geographic scales (e.g., the provincial level), and are larger at finer geographic scales (e.g., at the riding level). The model estimates also tend to be conservative, so geographic areas with extremely high or low measures are not estimated as well as areas with values closer to the national average for each survey question. The average margin of error is ±6 percentage points for the provincial-level estimates and ±7 percentage points for the riding-level estimates (at the 95% confidence level).
- Do the maps account for differences in population density across the country?
- No, the maps depict the estimated proportion of people within each geographic area who would answer each question as indicated. We have not adjusted the maps based on population density differences. It is important to keep in mind that some geographic areas may be large, but have few residents (e.g., Northern Saskatchewan), while other geographic areas may be small, but have many residents (e.g., the GTA).
The type of map used in this tool is called a choropleth map, which means the colors on the maps reflect the percentage of the population in a given geographic unit. These kinds of maps are used to represent everything from election results to census and economic data (e.g., per capita income or unemployment rates).
- Why aren't there any data for Canadian territories and Labrador?
- The public opinion data we use to model the distribution of opinion across Canada excluded phone samples from people living in Canada’s territories. Unfortunately, it is not possible to accurately infer Northern beliefs from our current opinion dataset.
- Can I use the data?
- Yes. We encourage you to explore the maps and use the results in your own work. The data are available on our Data Download page so that you can do your own analyses and create your own visualizations. If you publish an academic paper using these data please acknowledge the source by using the following citation:
Mildenberger, M., Howe, P.D., Lachapelle, E., Stokes, L.C., Marlon, J., and Gravelle, T. “The distribution of climate change public opinion in Canada.” (February 15 2016). Available here
If you publish a news article, visualization or blog post using these data, please include a link back to this website.
- When will the data be updated next?
- The estimates will be updated periodically when new Canadian climate opinion survey results are released.
- How do you measure the human-caused variable?
There was some confusion in the early media reports about the extent to which Canadians believe that climate change is human-caused. The confusion stemmed from differences among public responses to the question of whether climate change is partly or mostly caused by human activities. Our study indicates that 44% of Canadians believe that climate change is mostly human-caused while another 17% think that climate change is at least partly caused by humans. We model these two groups separately in the interests of transparently providing detailed data to the public on the geographic distribution of climate beliefs. To reduce any confusion, we have updated the web tool to make clear that the percentage of Canadians who do not believe climate change is driven by human activity at all is 39%.