How worried are the public about the impacts of climate change? That is a very interesting question which has recently been asked of the residents of the New Forest, here on the south coast of England, as part of a residents survey. Here is a link to the survey:
Residents survey - New Forest District Council
If you click on the link you will see that the headline about climate change was:
"75% feel worried about the impact of climate change" When you looked at the actual responses, this is what people gave (this is not in the link, but was given to me on asking for it) I have also obtained some national (UK) survey data from ONS to put alongside the New Forest (NF) data :
Very Worried: 29.5% 22%
Somewhat Worried: 45.2% 42%
Neither Worried nor Unworried: 11% 20%
Somewhat Unworried: 5% 3%
Not at all Worried: 9% 9%
Don’t know: 1% 2%
The totals do not add up to 100% due to rounding errors. You can see that by adding those who are "very worried" to those "somewhat worried" you do get to almost 75% (64% for the UK) BUT if you were to take the "somewhat worried" away and instead add them to the rest, this gives a total of 71.2% who are not "very worried" (78% for UK). Anyone who really believed there was a climate emergency would answer "very worried" - so clearly over 70% do not believe it.
It is not surprising, given the constant barrage of doom-laden stories that appear on our TV news bulletins, that many people would say they were "worried". What was interesting was that over 45% (42% UK) did not say they were "very worried", but instead chose a lesser degree of "somewhat worried". I would suggest that this softer category is quite significant.
If you click to download the report you will find some more detail. In item 5.10 it gives a summary of people's response to questions about what they have done, or would be willing to do to "address climate change", or to "benefit the environment".
The responses show that although people said they had used less energy at home, the primary reason they did that was not for the benefit of the environment, but simply to save money due to the big rise in energy costs. Another response was they had driven less, but again the majority had done this to save money, not the climate.
This backs up my hypothesis that the 45% who responded they were "somewhat worried" simply do not believe there is a climate emergency. What would have been interesting would have been to ask them how much they would personally be willing to pay in increased taxes and costs in order to get the country to achieve net zero emissions of CO2.
Here is a link to the Office for National Statistics website which holds the survey data:
Worries about climate change, Great Britain - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)