Why the public still struggles to believe in climate change; Latest statistics

Take a look around you. It's increasingly obvious that the world is in a state of confusion when it comes to an opinion on the topic of climate change. Despite the numerous scientific organizations and scientists that have continually proven its existence, many world leaders and citizens still deny its evidence. Various studies have been conducted to gain the publics opinion on the idea of climate change.

The Statistics

In a recent survey performed by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 70 per cent of Americans believe that global warming is occurring. This is surprisingly high considering the views of their elected president. The study also showed that 72 per cent of American trusted climate scientists about climate change. But only 49 per cent of people actually thought that scientists believe global warming is happening. However, Nasa released a study proving that 97 per cent of scientists believe it is happening. This indicates a dissociation between the public and their trust in science.

Alarmingly, only 40 per cent of Americans believed that global warming would affect them personally, but 70 per cent thought that it would affect future generations, 69 per cent believed it would affect plants and animals, and 63 per cent believed it would affect Third World Countries. This indicates that people are choosing to dissociate themselves from a problem that they believe to be is true.

But why are we dissociating ourselves from a problem that requires our immediate attention? Psychologist Sander van der Linden of Princeton University stated that: “Our brains are equipped with a biologically hard-wired alarm system that motivates responses to immediate environmental threats. The problem is that because we cannot readily see, hear, or experience the risk of climate change, this affective warning system is not activated.”

In the UK, 64 per cent of people surveyed in a poll containing 2,045 people, stated they believed that climate change is happening and is due to human activity, and only four per cent stating that it was not occurring at all. This is a five per cent increase since their 2015 study.

“Over just three years there has been a discernible shift in public opinion towards acceptance that climate change is both happening and mainly caused by human activity,” says ComRes chairman Andrew Hawkins 


On a positive note, although confusion lies within the consensus of climate change, an overwhelming majority of Americans (82 per cent to be exact) still believe that we should be investing in renewable energy resources What is ironic is that Americans also elected a president who will not invest in this. Action needs to be put in place in favour of public opinion.

Recently, US President Donald Trump proposed a $650 million budget cut for the National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration that is certainly collecting data on climate change. Actions such as this will only make the public even more oblivious to the doings of global warming

It is clear that if we follow current trends, the majority of people in industrialized nations will become climate change believers. The question remains, however, will it be fast enough? By the time people finally recognize this as a serious problem, will it be too late?

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