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Perceptions of climate change

Posted 29/01/2010 by RoseS

Are you a denier or a doubter? Uninterested or engaged? These are the four categories of people identified in a survey carried out Italy and the UK as having views on climate change (I. Lorenzoni and M. Hulme, Public Understanding of Science, 2009, 18, 383). The researchers also add that for most people in Europe, climate change is distant from their lives.

And now with the latest revelations about the IPCC and the activities of its members, public disinterest is only likely to increase.

Over the past couple of months we have endured so-called ClimateGate, in which an exchange of e-mails appeared to suggest that data were being fitted to theory rather than the other way around; the lack of significant outcomes from the Copenhagen conference in December; and more recently, the discovery that the suggestion of a rapid disappearance of Himalayan glaciers was never investigated or checked but accepted as face value from a single report in a popular science magazine, resulting in what has been dubbed GlacierGate, and calls for the resignation of the IPCC chairman. Some commentators have even gone as far as saying that the IPCC may itself actually be in a state of meltdown.

Suggestions have also returned that, rather than global warming, we might be subject to increasing cold as a result of climate change – encouraged of course by the recent period of extremely cold weather across the northern hemisphere. Against this are reports from US National Aeronautical & Space Administration saying that the last decade was the warmest while the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration has reported ocean surface temperatures were the second highest on record in December 2009. The plot thickens, along with sea ice at the Antarctic, according to the Norwegian Polar Institute, which has found that the temperature of the sea water under the East Antarctic ice shelf shows no sign of higher temperatures despite fears of a thaw due to global warming.

One key factor must be the politicisation of the climate change debate – especially with the general public’s lack of interest in politics generally. Most people appear to feel that it doesn’t matter what they think, the politicians will do what they want without any consideration of other suggestions.

One thing that is certain is that over the last few years C&I readers wrote more letters to the editor on climate change than any over topic. Over the last year, however, the letters have disappeared, reflecting perhaps the views mentioned at the beginning of these comments.

So what do you think now? Is the IPCC totally discredited? Should there be a new look at the science, without interference from the politicians? And are you a denier or just disinterested or are you engaged or a doubter? Post your answers here.

Neil Eisberg - Editor

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  • Anonymous said:
    22/06/2013 03:10

    If you're reading this, you're all set, parnedr!