Climate Confusion

The climate topic is literally frustrating Russian citizens. Only 20% of pollees believe that “they know enough about climate changes.” Researchers point out that today this issue is “less essential in Russians’ consciences than it had been 7-10 years ago:” in 2007, there were 34% of “confident people.”  

As a whole, the survey had shown that absolute majority of citizens is familiar with the concept of “climate change” (91%).  At that, it turned out that young people assess the level of their awareness noticeably lower than people of older generations. 

70% of surveyed Russians pointed out the volatility of climate: sharp fluctuations from hot to cold weather and vice versa. Eleven percent of pollees noted the warming tendency, while five percent note tendencies for cooling of the Earth’s climate. As a whole, serious changes of the Earth’s climate notice the overwhelming majority of Russian citizens: 86%.  Slightly more than one third of respondents believe that climate change has the natural character, while 55% of the surveyed are confident that human factors are the cause of climate change.   

The percentage of those who are dubious is so far quite high: 39% of Russian citizens believe that the problem is contrived. However, the majority, i.e., over one half of Russian citizens, believe that the global warming is a serious problem requiring urgent solution. And 55% of Russian residents supposed that our country might experience the negative impact of climate change. Sociologists are not surprised with that: they pointed out that the topic of “global warming” became one of the TOP-3 in people’s rating of causes of the abnormal last summer weather.   

It is interesting to compare the new ARPORC’s data with the survey of nearly two years ago held by initiative of the inter-departmental working group affiliated with the President’s Administration on the issues related to climate change and provision of sustainable development.   

Then, more than one half of pollees (54%) were confident about their awareness regarding the issue of climate change, while 36% “had heard something” about this. The number of Russian citizens who had acknowledged climate change as a human-caused problem two years ago was noticeably lower. Among those who believed that global warming was taking place on the planet, only 33% of Russian citizens agreed that it was caused by human activities, while 42% believed that it was equally stipulated by people’s activities and natural processes.   

This year, Russian sociologists have also thought through the frequency of references to the topic of climate change in Russian mass media.  The Medialogia Company came to the conclusion that there had been more than 100 thousand mentioning of it in the course of 5 years. 

Experts point out that there is a tendency of growth of climate change references. The major peaks of publications coincided with November 2015, when the Paris Climate Agreement came in force, and also March and June 2017. Sociologists believe that the major newsworthy events were Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would cease participation in the Paris Agreement on climate change and information of the Joint Research Center of the European Commission experts that a series of catastrophic floods will take place in Europe by the end of the century.

The results of the latest population survey showed that despite the context of media publications and challenges of responses from national scholars, Russian citizens recognize the importance and actuality of the climate change topic.  And this is despite the fact that in Russian mass media there still appear quite a few publications which name the climate change a political speculation and public opinion manipulation.  

For example, characters of a popular youth reality show practically daily keep repeating the phrase “there is no global warming at all” in their discussions and monologues.  We can presume that either this is someone’s experiment on public opinion formation, or a put-up job on formation of a particular position. 

By all means, one can influence the public opinion; however, we cannot anymore ignore what is happening around us.  Representatives of public environmental organizations are not surprised by the ARPORC’s survey outcomes.  They hope that people in Russia will deal with the climate change issue in a more constructive way, and that this will be reinforced with real programs and practical actions of the authorities of all levels, while the Russian society will move from discussions to actions.  The Russian Social and Ecological Union not only comes up with proposals on climatic actions at all levels but also provides information assistance in preparation and realization of climate plans for regions and municipalities.

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