Recent studies performed by Oxford and Princeton University researchers show public interest in climate change down significantly from its highs in 2007. Researchers went over Google Trends and found that the public’s interest has waned since spikes in 2007 and 2008.
The drop in public interest wasn’t due to any negative publicity of climate-change science, which is what the researchers were looking into.
Let’s take a look back before we look at today. Climate change searches began a steady rise in 2006 following the release of the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Searches of climate change keywords spiked a year later with the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
Researchers then looked to see how negative climate change stories affected the search results. Following ‘climategate’ (a hacking of emails that was initially hailed as proving disagreeing scientific views pertaining to climate change were suppressed which later turned out to be false) search terms were tracked to what kind of negative impact occurred. In particular, researchers looked at the term ‘global warming hoax.’ They found that there were actually more searches for that term in the previous year than following ‘Climategate.’
Scientists were concerned that events such as the one above damaged the public’s perception of climate change. This research says its not true.
While negative coverage isn’t hurting climate change, positive coverage isn’t helping either. Most people just aren’t interested in climate change. People are about here and now. Not rising sea levels over the next hundred years. The average person is trying to find a job or provide for their families. They aren’t worried about what the weather could be like in a 100 years or 10.
Should they be? Yes. We are already seeing the effects of climate change. Severe weather is occurring more regularly. This past winter was one of the more severe ones in recent years. The worst flash floods in more than a century are impacting parts of Europe. And, wildfires are hitting California earlier than ever as they deal with severe drought.
There’s no argument, no matter what the media would have you think. Climate change is real and is happening right now. But the average person has more to deal with than how the world’s going to reduce carbon emissions. And, that’s why you don’t care.