Almost half of the population of New Zealand is not convinced global warming is real, reveals a new survey.
According to a report in NZ Herald News, almost one in five of 2296 respondents said the concept was a giant con, and a further 28 per cent said global warming had not been conclusively proved.
The online survey of the Herald Readers' Panel was conducted by the Nielsen Company between December 10 and December 17, as world leaders prepared to meet at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen.
Thirty-eight per cent said global warming was a serious problem that needed action now, 13 per cent said it was the world's biggest challenge, and 2 per cent did not know.
Nineteen per cent - including almost 30 per cent of men aged 45 or older - thought it was a giant con and a waste of money.
Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister's science adviser, said that the 28 per cent figure of people believing global warming had not been conclusively proved was not surprising as scientists were not claiming conclusive proof.
But, Gluckman and Glenn McGregor, the director of Auckland University's School of Environment, said there was a problem communicating climate science to the public - and scientists and the media were equally to blame.
McGregor, whose department at Auckland University includes climate sceptic Chris de Freitas, said that scientists were increasingly certain climate was changing and the change was being driven by humans, but news reports tended to focus on alternative views.
He said that if climatologists explained their research processes better, they might be able to avoid popular criticisms, such as recent accusations of scientists "fiddling" with climate records.