Monday, March 4, 2013

How extreme weather acts as a catalyst for climate concern

Adam Corner in Environment Blog in the Guardian (UK): Against a backdrop of lukewarm sentiment about environmental issues globally, levels of concern about climate change in Wales are at their highest for many years. In a poll of 1,001 people by Cardiff and Aberystwyth Universities published on Monday, 85% reported being either fairly or very concerned about the risks of climate change, while 88% agreed that the climate was changing – levels not seen in British opinion polls since the mid 2000s.

The authors of the study reported a number of findings that can be compared directly to previous studies of the UK public as a whole. When identical questions were asked in a UK-wide survey in 2010, notably lower levels of belief in the reality of climate change and concern about its effects were observed.

The survey was conducted at the end of 2012, just after serious flooding swept across the nation, and the results reveal what looks like a significant impact of the floods on people's views about climate change. Across the sample as a whole, 65% agreed that the country was already feeling the effects of climate change. But the researchers surveyed an additional number of people in an area that was particularly affected by flooding (around Ceredigion). Among this group, the figure rose to 74%.

The Welsh study is not the first to point to a link between weather events and perceptions of climate change. A recent analysis of US public opinion over two decades found a clear and consistent relationship between average temperatures and belief in the reality and seriousness of climate change. The study even put a figure on the impact of seasonal weather on climatic beliefs: for every degree above the average temperature experienced over the past 12 months, there was a 7.6% increase in agreement that the world was warming....

A 2004 flash flood in Chepstow, shot by Neil Kennedy, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

No comments: