Nearly 90% of Europeans admit being concerned about climate change and global warming, most of them being well aware of the negative impact that energy production and consumption on this phenomena according to the last Eurobarometer results, this March.
But how will climate change affect European lifestyle? The majority of Europeans feel they will have to get used to switching lights off or using public transport. Other expected changes are about installing home equipments to save energy or paying much more for energy supplies.
However, perceptions about climate change vary around the world. We were interested in knowing how coastal professionals feel the message is getting across to the public. We have asked 18 countries from all around the world to give us their personal opinion on how people from their country perceive climate change and the influence of the media.
After reading these opinions we suggest you Have your Say and vote in this months poll on Media and Climate Change.
Angola Denmark Estonia Germany Greece Ireland Italy Jamaica Morocco Oman Philippines Portugal Romania Singapore South Africa Switzerland UK Ukraine
Angola has survived an intense, fratricide and very difficult war period for decades. Being a naturally rich country, not only regarding its well known mineral resources (oil, diamonds, etc.) but mainly its biodiversity, agriculture and fisheries potential – there are however complex problems to solve. Urban population concentration (in Luanda, main city live over 4 million), disrupted families, mine dissemination and unbalanced wealth distribution are some items among a long list of difficulties. These are determining factors when asking someone about their concern on climate change.
Environment concern varies deeply when considering Luanda population and the rest of the country. Angolans are keen about the country’s natural resources, including landscape, coastal ecosystems and wildlife richness but also about their cultural and ethnic values. However, cultural and environmental values are concealed under social survival behaviours in Luanda. It is also in the main city that one can find almost all business centres, most universities and the majority of public services. This results on a dual approach regarding Climate Change and its consequences. Mean sea level rise (coastal erosion caused by a negative sediment budget, naturally or artificially induced), air and water pollution, waste disposal and treatment, natural hazards and disease contamination are the most commented facts in Luanda, varying the perception of its importance and leading to unanswered questions. In the countryside people are concerned mainly on preserving their soil and water – forest destruction, aquifer misuse and proper agricultural practices are at their top environmental priorities.
Although there is a general concern about climate change, generally it is understood as a “rich countries” – read “occidental”, generated problem.
Media influence is scarce in this matter as there seems to be no scientific oriented news and even the consequences of recent floods seem to escape of any climate change correlation, bringing general attention to land use misplanning and managing options.
Proper scientific research should be undertaken, aiming to correlate climate change, environment and life quality in Angola. As any data older than 1975 is missing or in anyway related with past colonial authorities, medium to long term climate analysis involves a wider range of hypothesis including socio-economic and political considerations and its influence in the environment and Angolans life quality.
Nuno Gomes Dean of Science, Engineering and Technologies Faculty Universidade Independente de Angola Angola
The Danish public is aware of the fact that climate change is an important issue on the future agenda. The awareness is primarily made by the media with their focus on major events: flooding or lack of snow in the Alps. January 2007 was the warmest recorded ever in Denmark and this of course is a topic over family dinners. Workshops on climate change effects have been carried out concluding that the public must be involved in the planning of the future of their own area, and that the results of the climate change effects must be incorporated in regional plans as soon as possible.
Dr. Karen Edelvang Head of Research & Development – DHI Water • Environment • Health Denmark
ESTONIA The Estonian public is pretty well informed of possible climate change. There have been a number of newspaper articles and headings in TV and radio broadcasts dealing with global climate warming and sea level rise. Our scientists have carried out research in most vulnerable sectors and assessed possible consequences of climate change. The biggest threat comes from increasing storminess and destruction of the coast. At the same time, people tend to erect their summer cottages right on the beach.
Are Kont Institute of Ecology, Tallinn University. Estonia
Perception on Climate Change in Germany According to recent opinion polls, most Germans are unsatisfied with the national environmental policy and demand more actions to mitigate climate change. While 39 % believe that policy-makers and the media play down the risks, 14 % think that they exaggerate when picturing the risks. 43 % of the German citizens believe that climate change-related risks are realistically portrayed. About three-quarter of the population is convinced that global warming will have negative effects in Germany, 15 % expect rather positive ones.
Dr. Juergen Weichselgartner & Dr. Hartwig Kremer IHDP/IGBP Core Project “Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone” (LOICZ) Institute for Coastal Research, GKSS Research Centre Germany
The Greek public is aware about climate change effects from newspapers, articles in magazines, TV reports, TV panel discussions. The influence of the media on the views of the public depends on the sensitivity of the people towards environmental and ecological issues.
Panayotis Prinos Professor Aristotle University of Thessaloniki – Department of Civil Engineering Thessaloniki, Greece
The Irish public is becoming progressively more aware of climate change issues, based on their own perception of changing weather patterns, flood events, government policy measures and exposure in the media. Media reporting of climate change issues is usually overly dramatic and tends to simplify and sensationalise international scientific opinion (e.g. IPCC AR4). Currently there appears to be a lack of a coherent forum in which the public can debate the real issues associated with planning and mitigation for climate change.
Ned Dwyer, PhD EPA Fellow on Climate Change – Coastal and Marine Resources Centre Cork, Ireland
According to my perception, Italians (those who are not involved in any specific climate change related research) are somehow aware of the fact that Climate Change will cause some profound transformations to their country, but the public imagination is limited to physical impacts as sea level rise and desertification, which are those illustrated by the media when reporting on Climate Change impacts. Further knowledge on economic, social and environmental transformations is not very diffused. There is also some insecurity regarding the reliability of scientific forecasts of, for instance the extend of sea level rise, as media often give room to contrasting opinions from the scientific world.
Margaretha Breil Researcher of the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei Venezia, Italy
The majority of the Jamaican public is unaware of how Climate Change will affect their society. This majority is mainly composed of adults who have little or no formal education, especially in the area of science. The issue of Climate Change has only recently been a topic within the high school science curriculum, and therefore the younger generation is more aware of the associated issues rather than the adult section of the population. Even though the adult population might not be as aware of the science behind the topic, they would most likely have heard the name being mentioned.
Unfortunately, because most Jamaican people cannot readily see the effects of Climate Change, they do not care much about the topic. Despite having the issue of Climate Change being taught in schools, only a limited number of Jamaican students study science-related subjects and thus would have a good understanding of it. The media has not had much influence in spreading knowledge about Climate Change. In most cases, the topic is not newsworthy unless some natural disaster has affected the country or Caribbean region, such as a hurricane.
Jamaica’s economy is highly dependent on tourism and the exploitation of its beaches, coastlines and other marketable attractions. These natural resources will be directly affected by Climate Change. More frequent and intense storms and hurricanes as well as global sea level rise will expedite beach erosion and coastline retreat. It would be in the nation’s best interest to start a campaign to educate its population about the effects that Climate Change would have on the society and economy.
Dr. David Smith (Director) and Mr. Christopher Daly (Junior Coastal Engineer) Smith Warner International Limited Jamaica
Due to its position Morocco is very vulnerable to the CC. The public in general has started to perceive and note the impact of climate change, especially for the two last decades: dryness, desertification, flood, erosion, reduction of water resources, forests and fishing… The impact on the coast remains not very perceptible (even if 80% of industrial and energy infrastructures as well as 61 % of the urban population is concentrated in these areas)
The Media (Radio_TV, newspaper, industry, political and economic decision makers, a national Web site on Climate Change) has a direct influence (which remains to be evaluated) on this “awakening”, especially after the COP7 of Marrakech, a programme to raise awareness by the MATEE (Ministry for Regional Planning of Water and the Environment) which has been going on since 2005.
Director of UFR “Marine Sciences” Dr. Driss Nachite Abdelmalek Essadí University Tetuán, Morocco
I generally meet Omani intellectuals at work (Sultan Qaboos University) who are aware of the global warming debate. It is quite a common subject of general conversation, partly because the people concerned generally seem to think that Oman has been cooler and wetter in the last couple of years. There has indeed been quite a lot of rain (for Oman) – two major depressions in Muscat this winter, as well as a few showers – especially in the mountains, with the result that many of them have a sheen of green at present. Information about the debate (but not much opinion) comes from the three reasonable newspapers that are published here and the Omani state television channel.
Dr Andrew Palfreman Associate Professor and Head of Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Studies College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences -Sultan Qaboos University Oman
Climate change awareness in the Philippines has been increasing through time. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the different government agencies, NGOs, academe, research, and other organisations. However, we observe that more individuals are familiar with “global warming” than “climate change” and only a few understand that these terms are related. With regards to the impacts, these are definitely being felt in the country, but people do not necessarily associate them as climate change-related. The influence of media comes in varying levels. Some look at it from the economic perspective while others may emphasize the environment and disasters. Regardless of how it is presented, it helps in delivering climate change information to the masses. Even among media practitioners, there has also been a growing awareness on this issue. Furthermore, local media echoes information based on international news updates. This is beneficial for the target audience to understand the issue’s global perspective. Finally, there is a great potential in the Philippines for tri-media and other marketing strategies in creating hype on climate change and influencing behaviour-change for individuals to patronise alternative lifestyles.
Emmi B. Capili Project Research Assistant klima Climate Change Center, Manila Observatory
The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report “Climate Change 2007” and the recently proposed European CO2 emission targets have stimulated some debate on Climate Change impacts in Portugal. Since 2000, some research on impacts and adaptation scenarios in the fields of water resources, agriculture, biodiversity, energy, health, and tourism has been developed however, with low implementation in practice. The general public is not much aware of Climate Change effects although in recent years, droughts – the worst of the century occurred in the summer of 2005 – associated with forest fires, as well as coastal erosion and flooding have led to some concern. Media has a scarce influence but their views are often considered as exaggerated.
Luciana das Neves Civil Engineer, MSc, PhD Researcher Hydraulics and Water Resources Institute Faculty of Engineering – University of Porto Portugal
In my opinion, public awareness related to climate change is generally lagging behind western perception due to ideological constraints imposed to the Romanian society before 1989, but its raising dynamics looks good. The public has become more and more interested, especially in how the global warming signal projects on Romanian regions. The diversity of local conditions in Romania is wide ranging from coastal to alpine regions, and so is the range of questions raised by people in relation to climate change. Growing public interest in these issues drives the media, although there is room for improvements in knowledge transfer from both scientists and journalists.
Dr. Roxana Bojariu Head of the Climate Research Group – National Meteorological Administration Bucuresti, Romania
The general perception level on the effects of Climate Change is very low. Nevertheless, some concerns appeared during the past years, due to the increased number of draughts and floods. Why? Widespread low living standards (most people’s planning level is about “How to live tomorrow”, while for the even-not-very-remote future “We`ll manage somehow”). There is a lack of a concerted media campaign, except for the Romanian Service of the BBC. Most of the climate news generally reflects political meetings or related sensationalist news.
Dr. Adrian Stanica Senior researcher, Romanian National Institute for Marine Geology and Geo-ecology And Freelance science journalist for the Romanian Service of the BBC World Service Radio (since 2000), co-producer of the “Science Magazine” weekly feature and daily scientific news and actualities. Romania
In my opinion the Romanian public is aware of climate public through a lot of media information that are fully available in our newspapers and TV. Recently 2 pages in our “DILEMA VECHE” newspaper were dedicated to Mr. Stanica and Mrs. Bojariu on climate change. It is considered sometimes that a new fashion or a hot new issue for media has started related to climate change. There has also been a National Plan developed by our Ministry, officially approved through an act.
In 2007 the British Embassy together with the Ministry of Environment and Water Management will start a public campaign distributing leaflets, training school teachers and organizing workshops to increase awareness of climate change.
Romanians associate climate change with not having usually heavy snowy winters, the increasing floods frequency with disastrous consequences, hurricanes for the first time, fires or stormy weather during winters causing erosion serious problems and not distinguished seasons anymore. This means that both the environment and economy (tourism, agriculture, forestry, fishing) are affected.
Dumitru Dorogan Ministry of Environment and Water Management Water Resource Management Direction Romania
“The impacts and implications of climate change is something still quite remote from the Singapore public. Many do not understand the full magnitude of how they will be affected. The country is spared of natural disasters, and environmental impacts such as the haze from Indonesia’s forest fires and the recent more intense than usual rainfall do get peoples’ attention but only for as transient as they last. The Ministry of The Environment and Water Resources has recently initiated a programme to make people more aware of climate change, that it is something that will affect everyone and that everyone can play a part in reducing climate change drivers. This educational programme will get the population to appreciate how climate change will affect each one”.
Dr Loke Ming Chou Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore Singapore
Currently, many South Africans are well aware of Climate Change issues. Awareness has grown tremendously due to wide media coverage, especially of dramatic climate related natural disasters. Through personal experiences and through awareness campaigns, some now realize that South Africa is a water scarce country, and perceive global warming (with warmer drier conditions) to be a problem. In many poorer communities (with less access to the media) basic human needs override, and attention to and awareness of Climate Change is low.
Andre Theron Research Engineer – CSIR Stellenbosch, South Africa
Climate change is getting increased attention in the Swiss media and the consequences of it are ever more noticeable. This winter is abnormally mild, the ski season dismal, and Swiss glaciers are melting at an unprecedented pace. The changing seasons have affected farmers and caused dramatic natural events such as mudslides. The Swiss might not realize how significantly climate change will affect them, but their own observations and what they hear in the news is certainly raising their awareness.
Sarah Gotheil Programme Associate – Global Marine Programme IUCN Gland, Switzerland
I think the public is very aware of climate change as being “something” that is happening in the UK. However, there aare so many mixed messages from government and the media which I believe has confused many and has led to inactivity. Not many believe it is a serious threat to them personally in their lifetime and I’m not sure if many believe it will affect their children’s lives. People have noticed a change in the weather (It’s what the English do!) but making a link to climate change and its effects on social and economic welfare is more tenuous. Some are even looking forward to more sunshine!
Theresa Redding Network Manager – CoastNet Colchester, UK
By signing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Ukraine has committed to provide public access to information about climate change. To implement this, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine created a special information department on climate change issues; there are several websites, including the Ministry’s one, to make people aware of the negative impacts of climate change, including the increased frequency and the disastrous effects of extreme events on the environment, agriculture and public health. Television, still being the most available mass media for the general public, suggests programmes should be dedicated to climate change issues.
Notwithstanding these, public awareness of climate change is still poor in Ukraine. This is stipulated by low living standards in the country that results in a lack of public interest in global problems and bad access to mass media, especially the Internet.
Oleg Dyakov, Researcher & project manager of the Centre for Regional Studies &
Igor Studennikov, Executive Director of the Centre for Regional Studies Odessa, Ukraine