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Nature

The Majority Of Europeans Say They Are Already Feeling The Impact Of Climate Change

author

Josh Davis

Staff Writer

clockMar 9 2017, 20:42 UTC
Deepwater horizon

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was one of the worst environmental disasters ever seen in the US. Green Fire Productions/Flickr CC BY 2.0

There is a common perception that while people may know about or at least acknowledge the threats posed by climate change, they are little concerned by something that may occur at some point in the future. This point was seemingly backed up by a survey conducted in the US, but another now suggests that this opinion, at least in Europe, may be turning.

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When asked various questions relating to energy and climate change, 4,000 people living in four European nations (UK, France, Germany, and Norway) overwhelming stated that they are already feeling the effect of climate change. The majority of those asked also believe that humans are contributing to the warming planet, though slightly worryingly, only a third thought that there's a strong scientific consensus behind this, despite roughly 97 percent of scientists actually backing it.

This is in stark contrast to their trans-Atlantic neighbors, who while believing that humans are indeed contributing to our changing climate, are still resolute that this is an issue that will only be felt some time off in the future.

The results are therefore something of a mixed bag. It is clear there has been a pretty major shift in public opinion towards climate change and the role that we as a species are playing in it, but there is a persistent and dangerous belief that the science behind it is still unsettled.

This could in part, at least in the UK, have its roots in the fact that all opinions tend to be given equal standing in the media, even if this is not the case in the science. It means that if one person is brought on to talk about climate change and its impacts, frequently someone from the other side is given equal airtime even though they represent a tiny minority.

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There is, however, some promising opinions emerging from the survey, which was carried out by the European Perceptions of Climate Change Project. The majority of people thought that we should be taking action to tackle climate change, there should be subsidiaries given for clean energy, and that countries that do not partake in the Paris climate agreement should be punished financially (watch out Trump).

When asked about forms of energy, it also turns out that there is massive support among all four countries for renewable sources. Solar power was almost universally supported across the board, along with wind and hydroelectric power. Fracking, however, had little support, and nuclear didn’t fare much better.

It seems that the tide may indeed be turning on the public opinion of climate change, though clearly there are still some gains to be made.


Nature
  • climate change,

  • oil,

  • europe,

  • fossil fuels,

  • European,

  • renewables,

  • United States,

  • America,

  • Paris climate agreement