According to a Guardian poll today, public conviction about the threat of climate change has declined with the proportion of adults who believe climate change is “definitely” a reality dropped by 30% over the last year, from 44% to 31%. Overall around nine out of 10 people questioned still appear to accept some degree of global warming.
While I am pleased that so many people accept at least some global warming exists, it is a concern that those who were most certain appear to be dropping in number. The changes that are required to minimise the impacts of warming are best motivated by real belief!
Two comments from the article summarise this well:
“It’s going to be a hard sell to make people make changes to their [people’s] behaviours unless there’s something else in it for them – [such as] energy efficiency measures saving money on fuel bills,” said Edward Langley, Ipsos Mori’s head of environment research. “It’s a hard sell to tell people not to fly off for weekends away if you’re not wholly convinced by the links. Even people who are [convinced] still do it.”
John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace, said concern about fluctuations in public opinion have also prompted many environment groups to re-think their approach to campaigning – which has often focused on threats of climate disaster and making people feel guilty for their part in it. “All of us have [talked about these changes],” said Sauven. “A lot of [recent] headlines have been grossly distorted, but that doesn’t get away from the fact it’s quite a complex issue, so we have got to talk about what is engaging and positive in terms of the response [which] can have many benefits to our society, for example energy security.”
I would be really interested to know what sort of numbers exist in New Zealand – and whether they vary by political orientation!