After the email leaking at the University of East Anglia’s climate change unit there were some polls on climate change, but an annoying lack of any questions that were directly comparable to ones asked before the email leak that we could use to see if it had actually changed the public’s view on climate change. I always thought was a particular shame that Populus didn’t re-ask the series of questions on climate change they’d asked for the Times just before the email leak.
Three months down the line the BBC have commissioned Populus to do just that, and it suggests a significant decrease in the proportion of the British public who believe in climate change. In November 83% of respondents thought that “the Earth’s climate is changing and global warming taking place”, with only 15% disagreeing. That has now changed to 75% agreeing and 25% disagreeing.
Amongst those who do believe that climate change is happening, there is increased doubt that it is man made. Overall the proportion of people who think that it is an established scientific fact that climate change is largely man made has dropped from 41% to 26%, the proportion who think it is yet to be proved has grown from 32% to 38%.
Since the November poll we’ve seen not just the UEA email leak, but a reverse in the IPCC’s predictions about ice in the Hymalayas and a very cold winter. The impact of that last one shouldn’t be ignored at the expense of the more obvious stories about climate change scientists – 83% of respondents said they had recalled hearing stories in the news about winter having been the coldest ever, whereas 57% recalled hearing stories about flaws or weaknesses in the science of climate change. Of those 57%, the majority (73%) said this did not change their option, or had strengthened their conviction in the risks of climate change (16%), 11% said it had made them less convinced.