A poll has found that citizens across the world have very different attitudes when it comes to the urgency of the climate crisis. While we’re united across the globe in that concerns around the environment are growing, it seems we’re not all on the same page when it comes to the importance of tackling climate change right now. By Sadia Nowshin.
What did the poll reveal?
Brace yourself: it’s not particularly encouraging.
The poll, carried out by Globescan, found that the attitudes towards changing the way we affect the planet vary between the richest and poorest communities in the world. While big majorities in poorer countries strongly agreed that we need to tackle climate change with the same vigour as the pandemic, those in richer countries weren’t so enthusiastic.
So, pushing for drastic action to be implemented now received a lot more support in countries that are poorer. As we well know, it’s not those poorer countries that are contributing the most towards the climate crisis…
What else did it say?
90% of people surveyed across 27 countries saw climate change as a ‘very serious’ or ‘somewhat serious’ problem. In some countries, the concern has risen significantly: India’s serious concern around climate change rose from 70% in 2014 to 93% this year. In the US, a similar trend: 60% in 2014, to 81% this year, even with Trump’s making his very vocal scepticism clear.
So, we’re in agreement that there’s reason for more people to be worried. But when it comes to action, it doesn’t look like the feeling is unanimous…
When asked about their thoughts on urgent action being taken to combat climate change, Japan, Sweden, Australia, the US and UK all saw less than 45% of respondents say they strongly agreed. By contrast, in Kenya, Mexico, Argentina, Turkey and Nigeria, the number of respondents strongly agreeing was above 70%.
There also seems to be a bit of a disconnect when it comes to identifying which groups are bearing the brunt of climate change.
More than 60% of people surveyed in Brazil, Kenya, Turkey, Nigeria and South Africa strongly agreed it would be poor communities who would suffer the most. In Japan, Australia, US, UK and a few others, that number dropped to less than 40%.
These results might be puzzling, but experts who ran the poll suggest that personal experience played a part in shaping these responses. That’s personal experience of climate change, but also of the pandemic, which seems to have changed people’s perspective of global tragedies a bit.
In the UK, just 13% of respondents said they were personally affected by rising temperatures. When it came to the coronavirus pandemic, 34% said they were personally affected.
Compare that to Turkey, Mexico or Vietnam, where more than 50% said they had personally felt the effects of climate change. It’s no coincidence that these countries saw more people agree that urgent action is needed.
What does it all mean?!
What you could take from the results of this survey is that people in richer countries who aren’t feeling the effects of climate change as intensely as those suffering in poorer countries won’t push for action until the issue affects them directly. It’s sad, and doesn’t say much for human empathy, but unfortunately pretty likely.
The problem is that it’s only once those living in richer countries take responsibility and join that “strongly agree” club that we can get on our way to combatting the impact we have on the Earth. From the looks of the survey, they’ll only show their support for urgent action once they themselves are feeling the impact – we don’t want it to come to that, but it might just end up being the only way.