It is one of the golden rules of democratic politics that you are never allowed to turn towards the public and tell them they are the problem. Like many golden rules, from time to time it deserves to be broken.
Because when you read a survey which states that only 15 per cent of British people worry about global warming and its potential impact on the world, you ask yourself ‘do I really live in a country where, when people are asked if they worry about global warming and its potential impact on the world, more than eight out of ten say “No.”‘?
The figures for developing countries like Brazil, Mexico and India are much higher. Is that because they are more used to weather driven destruction? Or because they have not fallen victim to the ‘not bovvered’ syndrome which says instant gratification belongs to the individual and any long-term problem belongs to somebody else.
Of course politicians have to take a lead, and will be expected to come to a meaningful agreement at the Copenhagen Summit next month. But if they go with such low levels of interest and awareness back home – and the numbers have fallen from 26 per cent since the recession began, making Britain the ‘least concerned’ country of twelve surveyed for the Climate Confidence monitor – then their task becomes much harder.
Britain also topped the poll on the question as to whether they thought anything could be done. Almost half said no, against a global average of 38 per cent. ‘Not bovvered’ plus ‘nothing can be done.’ A lethal ‘public opinion’ combination. Meanwhile, Save the Children reckon climate change could take the lives of 250,000 kids next year, as a result of drought, floods, malaria, starvation caused by natural disasters leading to economic collapse. Not bovvered? Nothing to be done?
I wonder what a poll asking whether people really really cared who won X Factor would show? A lot more than 15 per cent I fancy.