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Public belief in climate change weathers storm, poll shows

London snow – snowman

UK Public acceptance of climate change as a human-caused threat seems to have survived recent media controversies, and some periods of seriously cold weather. That’s according to a recent opinion poll published by Guradian/ICM.

An overwhelming 83% of British people agreed that climate change is a current or imminent threat. Since the last poll 18 months ago, the number of people saying climate change isn’t a current threat rose by only 3%.

This poll comes after the UK has experienced two abnormally cold winters in row. In addition, three times as many people said the cold weather had made them even more concerned about climate change. So much for people being influenced by local conditions, in relation to a rising global temperature issue!

Could more people be beginning to understand the complexity of the problem do you think?

Image CC licensed by anniemullinsuk

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Public belief in climate change weathers storm, poll shows” was written by Damian Carrington, for theguardian.com on Monday 31st January 2011 14.03 UTC

The public’s belief in global warming as a man-made danger has weathered the storm of climate controversies and cold weather intact, according to a Guardian/ICM opinion poll published today.

Asked if climate change was a current or imminent threat, 83% of Britons agreed, with just 14% saying global warming poses no threat. Compared with August 2009, when the same question was asked, opinion remained steady despite a series of events in the intervening 18 months that might have made people less certain about the perils of climate change. Emails between climate researchers that were released online in November 2009 had led to unfounded suggestions that the scientific basis for global warming was flawed. World leaders also failed to agree to a global deal to combat warming and a mistake over the melting of Himalayan glaciers was handled badly by the UN’s science panel.

Supporters of action on climate change, from government to business to campaigners, will be relieved that this series of negative news failed to increase scepticism significantly. Polling by other organisations in early 2010 suggested a rise in the proportion of those unconvinced of the danger of climate change. But over the 18-month period between the ICM polls, the proportion of people saying climate change is not a current threat rose by just 3% and was balanced by a 3% rise in those saying it is a threat, representing a small polarisation of the opposing viewpoints.

The UK also suffered two unusually cold winters in 2009 and 2010. But three times more people said the freezing weather had actually made them worry more about global warming than those who were less worried. The finding runs counter to the idea that people are influenced more by local conditions than by reports of globally rising temperatures. It may also indicate an understanding of how warming is projected to increase extreme weather events and that people distinguish between changes in short-term weather and long-term climate.

A large majority of people think that humanity is causing climate change, with 68% agreeing and 24% choosing to blame non-man-made factors, which again is very close to the August 2009 response, with figures of 71% and 23% respectively. In 2007, the UN’s science panel collated the work of thousands of scientists to conclude that the link between the emission of greenhouse gases by human activities and climate change was 90% certain.

While climate sceptics remain a vocal presence in some parts of the climate change debate, the new poll shows them to represent a fringe position. An analysis of those who think climate change poses no threat reveals them to be predominantly men (70%) and about twice as likely to be over 65 and to have voted Conservative in 2010 than the general population.

Examine the full Guardian/ICM poll data. ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults by telephone on 22-24 January 2010. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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