Growing Public Apathy on Climate Change Topic Worries Scientists

Rhykker

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Feb 28, 2010
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Growing Public Apathy on Climate Change Topic Worries Scientists



Public interest in climate change has been decreasing steadily since 2007, according to research.


Google Trends studies performed by Oxford and Princeton University researchers have revealed that people have been losing interest in the subject of climate change over the past several years. According to a report published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, worldwide search interest in the topic has been waning since 2004.

The researchers observed the Google Trends for the terms "climate change" and "global warming" in English, Chinese, and Spanish - the Internet's three most popular languages. Google Trends databases more than 80 percent of the world's Internet search engine activity. The 2006 release of Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," was followed by a rise in search interest in climate change that peaked in 2007, when the IPCC's fourth climate change report was released.

Thereafter, the researchers found that media coverage of climate change resulted in short-lived rises in public interest that ultimately had no long-term effect on global search interest, even for incidents like "climategate" that caused major controversy. The study also notes that independent polling data corroborates these results for U.S. citizens.

A public with little interest in climate change is unlikely to push for policies that actually address the problem, said study author William Anderegg, a postdoctoral research associate in the Princeton Environmental Institute who studies communication and climate change. "If public interest in climate change is falling, it may be more difficult to muster public concern to address climate change," Anderegg said. "This long-term trend of declining interest is worrying and something I hope we can address soon."

We've seen a few headlines in the world of climate change in the past couple of months. has stated [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/134294-Climate-Change-Worse-Than-We-Predicted-Says-New-Report] that global warming has accelerated and will go on for centuries. Does climate change still interest you, or are growing numb to having the same information repeated year after year?

Source: Phys.org [http://phys.org/news/2014-05-climate-unshaken-scandal-unstirred-science.html]

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erbkaiser

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Jun 20, 2009
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They keep predicting DOOM DOOM DOOM, but nothing is happening. The first warnings said the sea level would have risen by 1 meter by now, obviously nothing has happened.

People are starting to ignore the bullshit.
 

Sigmund Av Volsung

Hella noided
Dec 11, 2009
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Not really surprised that people have stopped caring.

"Oh wow, the weather is lovely! What's that? We had no spring last year, instead an extended winter and then suddenly the weather became insanely hot? Well that's good, isn't it?

A lot of people I know don't care if we get high temperatures at otherwise strange times during the year, they're just happy that the sun is out, global warming be fucked.

To quote Huey Freeman:

"The heat makes everybody crazy"
 

Baresark

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Dec 19, 2010
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It's because the news has been saturated with it for years. The truth is, we are damn burned out from it. Furthermore, every time a new report pops up, it's just more of the same. It's constant rehashing of the same ideas again and again. Obviously, climate change is an important subject (whether you believe it's natural or man made). But individuals can do NOTHING about it. I can't change anything that's happening. If you were to take the entire internet readership and put us together, we can't stop it change what any of those reports say.

I think William Anderegg is just concerned that his funding will dry up. The three articles mentioned here are literally saying, "we were right, it's bad". We either 1) think they are right and see point in continuing to read about or 2) are just in a state of constant denial about it and "new" scientific research isn't going to sway us. No matter which one you choose, it's not going to draw much interest.
 

Eclipse Dragon

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It might be in some part that people feel there's nothing they can do about it.
You can buy a hybrid or a Tesla, if you can afford one, but that doesn't mean your neighbors can or will.
 

Lightknight

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Nov 26, 2008
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*sigh* Sure, I'm concerned about climate change but so what? What am I going to do? I've switched out the bulbs and cut down on my consumption. Now what? Nothing. Interest is for people who weren't already aware of it. Am I supposed to stare on in wide-eyed wonder at information that has been shoved down my gullet for years now? Old age correlates with higher death rates?! You don't say... *Shocked*

They generally made a mistake with calling it global warming to begin with when it's actually more extreme weather in both directions which, frankly, is more scary. But them jumping the gun on what it actually was is a real blow to the cause in a lot of people's eyes. Not that people don't believe something is up, just that now people aren't sure what is actually happening or if they have it right now.
 

Something Amyss

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Dec 3, 2008
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erbkaiser said:
They keep predicting DOOM DOOM DOOM, but nothing is happening. The first warnings said the sea level would have risen by 1 meter by now, obviously nothing has happened.

People are starting to ignore the bullshit.
Who are "they," specifically? Most of the time, when people claim that "they" have said these things, it's not the scientists who said it.

Eclipse Dragon said:
It might be in some part that people feel there's nothing they can do about it.
It might also be because if we actually do something about it, it will mean effort. It's easier to pretend it's not an issue.

But this is not really unexpected. A good chunk of the West has shortened attention spans when it comes to this sort of thing. Worse if you're American and it's foreign affairs.
 

iseko

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Dec 4, 2008
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So... Since 2007 people started to care less. Hmm, well maybe. Just maybe... Something happenend around that time with which people were more pre occupied then the environment. Anyone want to take a wild guess as to what this could be?
 

Eleuthera

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Sep 11, 2008
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I have another (added) reason for the decline in interest. The economy, 2007 is when is all went to crap, and people tend to be more interested in whether they have a job next month than whether or not they'll drown in 20 years.

In times of prosperity people will look out to help others/the world, in times of shortfall they'll be looking out for themselves (and family/friends I guess)

EDIT: Ninja'd
 

Lono Shrugged

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May 7, 2009
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People are stupid and shortsighted and if it doesn't affect them in their lifetime they don't care. The climate change fad was a nice little self destructive and self loathing twist of the nipple for a while but no one with sense really, actually thought that it would happen like we were being told.

You either have terror mongers making people feel guilty for being shat into existence and promising them a future of pain and suffering without bees. Or people living in denial that nothing is happening and that we are all fine while their kids become walking tumours. The reality is somewhere in the middle. My gut feeling is that if the shit does seriously hit the fan. Third world countries will suffer most and "developed' (rich) countries will have to use the same iPads and phones for a few years straight. Maybe eat meat only 3 times a week.

The Inconvenient truth is that life will go on much as it has throughout history. The poor living short painful lives getting leeched off of by the rich and our collective population and life expectancy drops. If it happened tomorrow, I am more likely to get killed looking for food or disease than anything else. And that pretty much defines the majority of the lives of living creatures. And if by some weird miracle, humanity ends. Well big deal in the scheme of things. Nothing lasts forever. At least we saw some great tv and played some good games It was a good vacation from the natural world.
 

Lightknight

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Nov 26, 2008
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Zachary Amaranth said:
erbkaiser said:
They keep predicting DOOM DOOM DOOM, but nothing is happening. The first warnings said the sea level would have risen by 1 meter by now, obviously nothing has happened.

People are starting to ignore the bullshit.
Who are "they," specifically? Most of the time, when people claim that "they" have said these things, it's not the scientists who said it.

Eclipse Dragon said:
It might be in some part that people feel there's nothing they can do about it.
It might also be because if we actually do something about it, it will mean effort. It's easier to pretend it's not an issue.

But this is not really unexpected. A good chunk of the West has shortened attention spans when it comes to this sort of thing. Worse if you're American and it's foreign affairs.
This particular topic has been all around us for several years. How do you expect people to maintain interest in anything that has been hammered into us for so long? Short attention spans would actually make us renew our interest every few months we go without hearing about it. A long attention span means we lose interest and maintain the lost interest without new input (of which there has been very little).

But seriously. What am I supposed to do beyond making sure my own personal lifestyle isn't contributing more than normal to the problem? I'm not going to go out and picket polluting manufacturing plants. I'm not going to uproot my family and spend my days in a tent. Beyond switching out the bulbs and making my home energy efficient to the point of having solar panels, what else is there? Nothing. If I were to see a bill that impacts it I'd vote in favor of measures that reduce our global impact. That's about all I can do. I already wrote my congress representatives and all I have to show for it is a lot of shitty spam from them come election time.

Consider my interest thoroughly waned. But I'm not sure my interest is necessary to maintain efficiency.
 

Clowndoe

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Goddamit, Gore had to take the most alarmist predictions for his film and now people get to wipe their hands and say "Welp, I guess every scientist was wrong, back to life as usual."
 

Roxor

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Nov 4, 2010
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I think the reason for the decline in interest is that everyone thinks the problem is too big for individuals to tackle and that the governments are too corrupt to do anything substantial (whether that's true in their country or not), so they're just resigning themselves to the fact that they'll just have to put up with crappy weather and poor quality food for the rest of their days.

It wouldn't surprise me if interest returns following a purge of corrupt politicians and the implementation of a way to keep them out of government.
 

MeChaNiZ3D

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erbkaiser said:
They keep predicting DOOM DOOM DOOM, but nothing is happening. The first warnings said the sea level would have risen by 1 meter by now, obviously nothing has happened.

People are starting to ignore the bullshit.
As someone who cares about the environment, no, generally it's just getting jaded. They did predict doom and doom will come, in the mean time it's catastrophe after catastrophe and I have gotten a little desensitised to it. Just because your house isn't underwater doesn't mean species haven't been going extinct, global temperatures haven't been rising, polar sea ice hasn't been getting thinner and natural disasters haven't been increasing in frequency and severity.

OT: This happens to me as well, I'm not as motivated as I was a few years ago about climate change. But partly I think it's because people are already informed/entrenched. I'm not all over every environmental issue, but I'm still going to vote Greens and if you ask me what priorities or challenges are for the world, climate change is still way up there. Not that it seems to matter, I live in a country of people who voted for a PM who doesn't believe in climate change and has already axed several departments related to it.

Lightknight said:
But seriously. What am I supposed to do beyond making sure my own personal lifestyle isn't contributing more than normal to the problem? I'm not going to go out and picket polluting manufacturing plants. I'm not going to uproot my family and spend my days in a tent. Beyond switching out the bulbs and making my home energy efficient to the point of having solar panels, what else is there? Nothing. If I were to see a bill that impacts it I'd vote in favor of measures that reduce our global impact. That's about all I can do. I already wrote my congress representatives and all I have to show for it is a lot of shitty spam from them come election time.

Consider my interest thoroughly waned. But I'm not sure my interest is necessary to maintain efficiency.
I agree. There's only so much people saving water and energy can do. This issue is firmly in the hands of governments at this stage. I could buy and install solar panels, but with no rebate, it is prohibitively expensive. I could go without electricity but I'd be without education or career prospects as well. The kind of solutions we need come from national changes.
 

XenoScifi

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Dec 30, 2013
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Nobody seems to "care" because there is only talk of climate global warming and no real push to do anything about it. IMO it's a natural occurrence that planets go through. However I do agree that humanity is not helping, but until the majority of the population comes together and makes a huge push to correct the "damage" we have done and are doing, this will all be a moot topic.
 

Something Amyss

Aswyng and Amyss
Dec 3, 2008
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Lightknight said:
Short attention spans would actually make us renew our interest every few months we go without hearing about it.
No, not really. Unless you also have a short memory.

But seriously, don't ask what you're going to do if you then go out of your way to point out that you're not going to do anything. There's nothing you WILL do, so don't dress it up.
 

StarStruckStrumpets

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Jan 17, 2009
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The fact of the matter is there's absolutely fuck all we can do about it. People think voting for environmental parties will get things done, when in a realist's world all they are doing is wasting a vote. The general public are far too concerned with their own lives and economy to even begin to think of matters on a worldwide scale. Species go extinct all the time, I just say we let the natural disorder of the universe mess everything up and see what happens.

After all, it makes for entertainment.
 

synobal

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Jun 8, 2011
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Fox news screaming "its not real its a hoax by the Liberals!" isn't exactly helping either. Its okay though I'm not having kids and reducing my carbon footprint as best I can. So that is the best I can do.