Although we hear troubling reports from various media outlets regarding the perception over climate change within the general public, it seems that, as usual, the self-proclaimed “sceptics” are not as numerous as they are loud.
Less than a year ago, CSIRO conducted a survey of 1602 randomly selected Australians to gauge their views on the subject. Unsurprisingly, 78% believed climate change to be real and worth concern, while only 7% were found to believe it was not occurring. 15% of the participants were unsure.
In an interview with Glen Paul of CSIROpod, researcher, Peta Ashworth stated, ” [We] used a market research company who has a very large population sample on their database, and then they send that out across the country so that we get a representative sample of the Australian population across the States, and pretty much reflective of the age and gender in Australia.
“…they were telling us about why they felt that, was that they were already experiencing adverse weather patterns, or that they’d felt that there’d been some unseasonal changes, changes in temperature over a longer term, which that they felt had changed significantly in their lifetime. And then those that were sort of writing that they felt it was starting to happen, there was some evidence that going forward they felt that there’d be much more dramatic change coming forward over the next 30 years.”
As touched upon in the interview, the recent publicity over a carbon tax (something Abbott has previously stated would be the best option until backflipping to appeal to certainer voters) would likely change the numbers slightly, however Peta feels that this would only effect some of the “uncertain” individuals.
Peta went on to say, “[P]eople are looking for action, and in fact many people in the community are actually taking their own personal actions as well to mitigate behaviours just in their daily lives – thinking about the way that they might use the car, or how they use energy in their day-to-day lives. I guess recycling and those sorts of things. So we are seeing that across society people are taking action. You know from their perspective they see there’s a role for Government, there’s a role for industry, and there’s a role for individuals.”
It is helpful sometimes to remind ourselves that, regardless of what some media outlets say or AGW “sceptics” try to insist, the general public is listening to the message coming across from the science and sees climate change as an important issue, alongside humanistic principles such as the cost of living, the state of the economy, employment and health care – things that people such as Nicolas Stern (in Blueprint for a safer planet) and more recently Dana (for SkS) have argued must/would be mutually address in tackling climate change.
Listen to the CSIRO podcast: In science we trust: 78 per cent believe in climate change