Cooling response to global warming, according an article in BBC News 7 Feb 2010. On 3rd and 4th February a British survey organisation named Populus carried out a survey of opinions on global warming. This was compared with a similar survey carried out in November 2009. They found there has been a rapid decrease in the number of people who believe in man-made global warming – from 41 percent to 26 percent. The number of climate change sceptics is on the rise. Those who believed that climate change was happening, but has not been proven to be caused by man, increased from 32 percent to 38 percent; and those who believed “climate change is happening, but it is environmentalist propaganda that it is man-made” increased from 8 to 10 percent. There was even an increase in people who believe that climate change is not happening: from 15 to 25 percent.

The survey also showed that one third of the people who agreed that climate change was happening believed “the potential consequences of living in a warming world had been exaggerated”. This was an increase from one in five in Nov 2009.

Michael Simmonds, managing director of Populus, commented to BBC News: “It is very unusual indeed to see such a dramatic shift in opinion in such a short period.” He went on to say: “The British public are sceptical about man’s contribution to climate change – and becoming more so. More people are now doubters than firm believers.”

Professor Bob Watson, chief scientific adviser to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the results were “very disappointing”. He told BBC news: “The fact that there has been a very significant drop in the number of people that believe that we humans are changing the Earth’s climate is serious. Action is urgently needed.” He went on to warn: “We need the public to understand that climate change is serious so they will change their habits and help us move towards a low carbon economy.”

In between the two surveys there have been numerous stories of flawed climate science, but these did not appear to be the main reason for the change. Only 57 percent of people were aware of the bad science stories and 73% of these said the bad science stories had not changed their views about the risks of climate change. Michael Simmonds said that it was very unusual for single events to have a dramatic impact on public opinion. He commented: “People tend to make judgements over time based on a whole range of different sources.”


Editorial comment: Although only 57 percent of people said they knew of the flawed science stories full survey results show 83 percent said they heard stories about the record cold UK winter but the survey did not ask if these stories made people change their minds. People may not know what makes for good science, but they do know if they are cold, and it is unlikely they will want politicians to pass laws that increase the cost of keeping warm. Whatever has made people change their opinion, it seems the more strident the government climate warnings, the more people think science and government claims are exaggerated. Investigations into the climategate e-mails and the false claims made by the IPCC indicate there are more stories of flawed science to come. The really worrying thing is that people may lose their respect for real science and lose interest in doing the things that can be done about environment. (Ref. weather, politics, public opinion)

Evidence News 17 Feb 2010