A Discernible Shift
It’s no secret that the world has a divided opinion on climate change. Despite overwhelming evidence, there are still people who believe man-made climate change is not real. However, a new UK-based study reveals that public opinion is changing, and the majority of people are beginning to accept that man-made climate change is real.
Research consultancy specialist ComRes conducted a poll of 2,045 people for the Energy and Climate Information Unit for the 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,” explained ComRes chairman Andrew Hawkins. “Seven in ten now believe that almost all, or a majority, of climate scientists believe the same.”
Concretely, the ComRes study showed "the majority of British adults (64%) recognize that climate change is happening, and that it is primarily due to human activity. This view has steadily become more prevalent since 2014 (57%) and 2015 (59%)."
The ComRes study also revealed that a majority of the respondents understand most of the major effects of climate change. "When it comes to effects of climate change, harm to wildlife and nature (80%) and an increase in flooding (73%) are key concerns for the majority of the population," the summary of findings states.
Understanding The Effects
It was the reality of these effects that convinced the British people, said Marylyn Haines Evens, chairwoman of the public affairs committee of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. “For people who have worked on climate change for decades, the finding that people recognize the sheer weight of scientific evidence is extremely heartening,” she said.
In an interview with Scientific American, resident "Science Guy" Bill Nye said that climate change "doesn't have that one catastrophic moment." He added: “As changes in the environment become more apparent, more people will get onboard the environmental bandwagon. I think people will get onboard eventually.” This shift in opinion may soon come to the U.S., as well. He also expects more climate science skeptics will soon have a change of opinion due to innovation.
Indeed, there's a more palpable sense of urgency now, especially with 2016 being the hottest year on record. “But as the climate system sends increasingly urgent signals of the stress it is coming under, this understanding must be turned into action to address to the problem,” said Joanna Haigh, co-director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London. “We have the means to avoid the very worst impacts of climate change, and create a cleaner, healthier society – all it takes is the will.”