Gold Coast Mail (June 8 2011)
CLIMATE change sceptics are an endangered species in Australia, a national survey shows.
The survey of almost 3100 Australians found 74 per cent believe the world’s climate is changing.
When asked a different question about the causes of climate change, which removed the reference to personal beliefs, 90 per cent of respondents said human activity was a factor.
Just five per cent said climate change was entirely caused by natural processes.
Overall, less than six per cent of respondents could reasonably be classified as true climate change sceptics, the study by Griffith University researchers found.
“It’s clear that people want the government to do something about climate change and they also feel they have a personal responsibility to act,” environmental and social psychologist Professor Joseph Reser told AAP.
The survey was carried out in June and July last year, with the results released on Friday.
Prof Reser said the survey was one of the few in-depth studies that really drilled down into public perceptions and understandings about climate change.
He said the survey questions were framed in several ways, to really get to the bottom of what people believed and understood.
The intention of asking many questions, framed in different ways, was to limit skewed outcomes and really understand the Australian mind-set on climate change.
Prof Reser said the survey results were consistent with public perceptions in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world.
But Australian respondents viewed climate change as more immediate and closer to home.
“Our findings suggest that Australians feel the threat to their local region and nation more intensely and that’s not surprising given the nature, intensity, and dramatic impacts of natural disaster events in the past few years,” he said.
“With nonstop media images, sound bites, warning messages, and popularised science accounts of planetary threat, psychological impacts are not surprising.
“However, we have neglected how the threat and physical environmental consequences of climate change are impacting on the human landscape.”
The survey was commissioned by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and funded by the federal government’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency’s Climate Change Adaptation Research Grants program.