opinion in Portugal is one small but very positive part of the extraordinary
divergence of thinking around the world on the subject of climate change, which
is complicating what the overwhelming majority of climate scientists regard as
a looming crisis that could become calamitous.
percentage of people in Portugal – higher than in the big majority of other countries
– believe the scientific evidence that global warming is due to human activity
and that it is ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ worrying.
vary greatly in the United States, the world’s second biggest polluter of
greenhouse gasses. A huge number of people in the U.S. don’t care about global
warming and many don’t believe it’s a problem or even happening. A lot of this
hinges on political ideology and the Christian religion, according to recent
Research Centre, a think-tank based in Washington D.C., this month published
the results of a comprehensive survey showing that a majority of Americans “appear
sceptical” of climate scientists. No more than a third of the American public
give climate scientists high marks for their understanding of climate change. Even
fewer say climate scientists understand the best ways to address climate
quarter of all American Christians, including 38% of Protestant Evangelicals,
do not think climate change is a serious problem or a problem at all, according
to the PEW study.
are estimated to number about 100 million, not that far short of a third of the
entire US population. Most are said to favour the conservative Republican policies.
A poll last
year put the number of Catholic adults at 21% of the total U.S. population, but
politically they are split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. They are
also roughly split 50-50 on whether global warming is due to human activity,
and if it is a serious problem or not.
Americans tend to support the liberal Democrats. Only 4% of atheists and 11% of
Agnostics consider climate change an insignificant problem.
there are relatively few climate change doubters or deniers in Portugal, a
largely Socialist country where the predominant religion, Catholicism, is
declining a lot. The Portuguese are all too familiar with severe heat waves,
wildfires, droughts and rising sea levels. So no wonder they accept the
scientific evidence that global warming is happening long before the critical
deadline limits of 2%C, if not 1.5%C, hoped for by 2050.
The young in Portugal are among the least confused and
most concerned groups in Europe, in part because of this country’s
well-understood vulnerability. They have little or no truck with the misinformation being put about
by religious groups and large fossil fuel entities whose profits are endangered
by the scientific truth.
School of Economics and Science reports that the UK’s main club for climate
change deniers, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, has continued to spread
misinformation this year about the impacts of rising levels of greenhouse
gasses in the atmosphere.
A scholarly analysis has concluded that climate scepticism
in Germany is underreported and that denial percentages are actually as high as
in the USA.
A number of other international studies have found a
surprising spread of attitudes in different countries. For example, a survey
conducted across G20 countries revealed that more than 90% of people in India,
the third largest polluter after China and the USA, wanted to do more to
protect nature and stymie the effects of climate change.
Another study conducted this April showed that
21% of French respondents aged between 35 and 49 were climate sceptics, while 47%
thought it “too late to reverse global warming.”
It emerged from a European Union survey this year that
Norwegians are very sceptical and that only one in four believe global warming
is caused by humans. This compares with eight in ten Italians who do believe
humans are responsible.
The latest European Social Survey, an academically driven
study conducted across Europe every two years, reports that there has been a
particularly large increase in those who are seriously concerned about climate
change in Sweden and Hungary. Italy and Spain rank very highly in this regard,
but only in Portugal are more than 50% of people “very” or “extremely” worried,
according to this survey.