90% Of Australians Accept Human Impact On Climate Change
August 20, 2012
Research has found that 90 percent of Australians accept human causal impact on climate change and are taking adaptive action.
AsianScientist (Aug. 20, 2012) – Research from Griffith University and Cardiff University in Wales has found that Australians are accepting climate change and are taking adaptive action.
The two-year project involving nearly 7,500 Australians and 1,800 Britons found 90 percent of Australian and 89 percent of British respondents accepted human causal impact on climate change.
Two Australian surveys were conducted in mid 2010 and 2011, the British survey in 2010.
Though comparison findings showed striking similarities overall, Australian respondents viewed climate change as a more “immediate, proximal, and certain threat” than British respondents and were beginning to adapt to it through changes in their thinking, feelings, and behaviors.
71 percent of Australians also reported an increasing concern about climate change over the two year period prior to the surveys, citing increased awareness, media coverage, perceived lack of government action, and increasing frequency of natural disasters and extreme weather events.
Professor Joseph Reser, the Australian project leader from Griffith University’s School of Applied Psychology and the Griffith Climate Response Program, said only 6.5 percent of Australian respondents could be characterised as “climate change skeptics.”
“There has been a continuing and widespread misreading of the Australian public’s acceptance of and often deeply felt responses to climate change,” he said.
“A particularly noteworthy finding was that 54 percent of Australian respondents said they believed the impacts of climate change were already being felt here and 45 percent believed they had personally encountered noteworthy changes or events associated with climate change.”
“What the survey findings are suggesting is that when people personally encounter an environmental change or event they attribute to climate change, it changes them. ‘Climate change’ is no longer a complex scientific phenomenon or political argument; it becomes for many a local, concrete, and immediate encounter, one which is both personal and very significant,” Reser said.
71 percent of Australian respondents reported that climate change was influencing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
“What also stands out, from a psychological perspective, is the finding that psychological adaptation to climate change appears to act as a powerful mediator between experienced psychological distress at the media coverage and implications of climate change and behavioral engagement. Most Australians are not paralyzed by the debate, they’re taking action,” Reser said.
The ongoing project is documenting and monitoring important psychological responses taking place in association with climate change, and is conducted under the guidance of a team of applied psychologists.
The full report can be found at: Reser JP et al. (2012) Public Risk Perceptions, Understandings and Responses to Climate Change in Australia and Great Britain.
Source: Griffith University; Photo: Alex Schlotzer/Flickr.
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