As the previous post ‘What is the public opinion on climate change?‘ has been the most popular on the site so far, here is a follow-up, summarising some of the recent opinion polls on the subject, and some of the blog reactions to them. A little research shows that this frequently covered on the blogosphere, but it also appears to be perennially interesting to readers, so…
The most recent media comment, datestamped for this coming Sunday (go figure), comes courtesy of the New Statesman. The article is headlined ‘Climate Change; why we don’t believe it’. There is plenty to chew on in the article, which is recommended.
Meanwhile, Chris Huhne MP has his say in Financial News Online. It is, not surprisingly more political in orientation, but an object of interest none the less.
The most up-to-date of the major polls comes from World Public Opinion. This is a substantial piece of work, covering an international perspective, and is reasonably detailed. The ‘full report’ pdf is however disappointing, merely adding a country-by country breakdown to the overview shown here. Kudos should go to Anna Fahey, who picked up on this a couple of weeks ago and reported on it on Grist.
A report last October from the Sydney Morning Herald serves to illustrate the tendency of the ‘Man/Woman In The Street’ to be more willing to see climate change at work when changes in weather patterns are happening under his/her own nose, even though this is a false inference. It might suggest one of the more serious difficulties climate scientists will have to face in communicating their message, however.
The Globescan 30-country survey, published last April received some coverage at the time. It was a substantial piece of work, which seems to say what the majority of scientists (and possibly politicians) would like it to. Note the connections to the WPO, mentioned above.
Much less visible, but containing some interesting results, was a London-based MORI poll conducted back in December, which also contains political material. This one is regional, but has some quirky responses.
Larger in scope, that bastion of Capitalism, the Financial Times (actually, I’d argue that it is one of the most reliable media in terms of publishing the ‘facts’, and unduly influential in policy circles in relation to its circulation), got Harris to conduct a six-country European poll, which it reported on in November.
The Pew Centre conducted a poll back in July, also with political content. This has probably received coverage already in the USA. It also contains some useful results specific to US policy on climate.
There is no doubt that what the M/WITS thinks is very important, not just to politicians and their advisers, but also to climate scientists. A thorough analysis of these different polls is a large project, which I may undertake later. One, primary thought is that opinions are not obviously changing one way or another, but do show marked fluctuations. It is possible that these fluctuations can be correlated in time with major media output (especially film – I’m thinking AIT) and/or local/regional weather anomalies. In the meantime, you’ll have to make your own mind up about what, if anything, this combination of results can tell us about public opinion on climate change.
Postscript: courtesy of the Google Globalchange group, this has been brought to my attention. Different polls, different results; interpretation from the pwersonal POV of a climate scientist.