Andrea Liverani has blogged about the fact that in only 8 of 14 countries polled is there a majority of people believing in a scientific consensus around climate change. Yet it turns out that this is a lot less worrisome than those hoping for action on climate change might fear.
In fact, what the poll teaches us is that many people believe that climate change is a serious issue even as they don't believe in a scientific consensus. See the graph below on the left: some 20 to 65 percent believe in the consensus, but in no country do less than 70 percent of those polled think that climate change is serious. Why? I suppose they just see the evidence in their daily lives.
And perhaps even more interesting, in most countries people polled thought their government should do more to combat climate change—even when they did not believe in the scientific consensus. See the graph below on the right: in all but three countries, more than 55 percent of those polled thought their government should do more to combat climate change.
Does this mean we should not worry so much about how to communicate better the scientific consensus on climate change? No, of course not. There is a positive relation between the belief in a scientific consensus and concern about climate change. However, with the evidence on climate change affecting individuals all over the world on a daily basis, we may be overblowing the importance of people believing in the existence of a scientific consensus.