LAST YEAR’S flooding made people more convinced of climate change, research has suggested.
Some 88 per cent now agree the world’s climate is changing, up from a low of 72 per cent in early 2013, the latest in a series of surveys on people’s attitudes on the issue since 2005 revealed.
Many people also thought climate change was a factor in the winter flooding, which hit parts of the UK last year after a run of major storms, with 61 per cent saying it contributed a “fair amount” or a “great deal” to the floods.
And almost three quarters agreed that “the floods showed us what we can expect from the future of climate change”, according to 1,002 people surveyed for research by Cardiff University.
More than two thirds were now very or fairly concerned about climate change, and a quarter had become more concerned about the issue in the last 12 months, with floods and extreme weather the top reasons for being more worried.
The survey, which targeted people in areas hit by flooding, found that a much higher proportion of those affected by floods were more concerned than they had been a year ago. Almost half of 135 flood-hit householders quizzed said they were more concerned about the issue now.
They were also twice as likely – 29 per cent compared to 15 per cent – to name climate change as one of the three most important issues facing the UK over the next 20 years, although even among other people it was the fifth most commonly named issue.
Professor Nick Pidgeon, from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, said: “Our findings demonstrate that an association between last year’s winter flooding and climate change has been forming in the minds of many ordinary people in Britain, who also view these events as a sign of things to come.”
He added that there had been a series of high-profile floods since the turn of the century, with some reports and public figures linking flooding to climate change.
While there were other potential reasons for the increase in acceptance of climate change, such as major scientific reports, he added: “It’s partly some of these background factors and partly it will be what happened here.
“These events were so significant and important to the UK in terms of climate change and environment, they have had an impact on people.”
Nationally, more than three quarters, said they had seen signs of climate change in their lifetime, such as extreme weather, floods and changing seasons.
Research since the floods has shown that the likelihood of having such heavy rain extremes was 25 per cent greater as a result of human influence on the climate.
The number of people who attributed climate change at least in part to human activity was up, with 36 per cent saying it was mainly or entirely down to humans and 48 per cent saying it was partly human and partly natural.
Just 13 per cent said climate change was mainly or entirely the result of natural processes.
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