Increacing numbers of people now believe human-made climate change is happening
A poll of 2,045 people in the UK reveals a “discernible shift” in public opinion as 64 per cent agreed climate change is happening and is mainly caused by human activity, up from 59 per cent when the same question was asked in 2015 and 57 per cent in 2014.
Just 4 per cent said it was not happening, while 22 per cent said it was occurring but humans were not mainly responsible, the poll by ComRes for the Energy and Climate Information Unit revealed.
Four out of five said they were worried about harm to wildlife and nature as a result of a changing climate, while almost three quarters of those polled said a rise in flooding was a concern.
Some 60 per cent of people were concerned there would be more variation in availability and prices of some foods, while almost half were worried about an increase in heatwaves.
People’s understanding of what experts think about climate change is also increasing, with 69 per cent now saying that almost all or a majority of scientists believe it is mainly the result of human activity, up significantly on previous years.
“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,” says ComRes chairman Andrew Hawkins. “Seven in ten now believe that almost all, or a majority, of climate scientists believe the same.”
Marylyn Haines Evans, chairwoman of the public affairs committee of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, says concerns over flooding, the cost of food, loss of wildlife and impacts on the countryside showed how climate change was becoming all too real for British people.
Joanna Haigh, co-director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, says: “For people who have worked on climate change for decades, the finding that people recognise the sheer weight of scientific evidence is extremely heartening.”
“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,” says Haigh. “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.”
The findings come after 2016 was declared the hottest year on record globally and the third year in a row when world temperature records were broken.