by Michael Maccallam
Issues of climate change have dominated environmental debates for decades, but these debates have arguably never been more contentious than they are today. With the recent appointment of Scott Pruitt as the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and his belief that carbon dioxide does not contribute to climate change, discussions are once again returning to determining the true nature of climate change, and what man’s relationship with it is.
Despite the seemingly sceptic view of climate change from across the pond, a survey co-ordinated by researchers at Cardiff University has shown that there is overwhelming support in four European countries (UK, France, Germany and Norway) for the fact that climate change is real and is happening now.
The survey was conducted with 4,000 members of the public asking their views on a wide range of issues concerning climate change, with results showing that over 80% of people in all four countries agree that the world’s climate is changing, and a similar percentage believing that human activity is, in part, causing it. Just under 60% of those surveyed felt that climate change has already started to affect us, with unpredictable weather being a driving factor in this.
They were then asked whether there is a strong scientific consensus on climate change, with only an average of 30% of people thinking this was the case over the four countries, but when asked about green energy over 70% agreed that governments should subsidise renewable sources of energy using public money.
In light of the recent refugee crisis in Europe, they were asked whether climate change would have an impact on immigration and refugees, and the majority of people agreed that the refugee crisis was not caused by climate change, but 30% of those in the UK believe that climate change will bring about more migration to the country in the future, with this number being 57% in Norway.
Ultimately, the survey has shown widespread support of the fact that climate change is happening, and that action needs to be done if we are to ensure our long-term existence. In the era of Trump, political chaos has posed threats to conventional attitudes, including those concerning climate change. With proposed cuts to climate and water pollution regulations, and with Trump’s pledge to invest more in the coal and oil industries, along with the possibility of the US withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, our protection of the environment has never been in a more precarious situation. Despite trends in the USA towards climate change denial, European attitudes are moving strongly towards ensuring more renewable sources of energy, and acting now in order to protect our planet.