Public interest in global warming has fallen sharply in the past few years despite growing evidence that man-made emissions have altered the climate, according to a study of people’s internet browsing habits. The number of Google searches carried out worldwide for the phrase “global warming” has fallen by 84 per cent since the peak in 2007.
There has been a significant decline in searches for phrases related to climate change in all three of the main languages of the internet: English, Mandarin and Spanish.
Researchers from the University of Oxford and Princeton University found that interest in global warming peaked in the months after the release of Al Gore’s campaigning documentary An Inconvenient Truth in 2006.
Interest remained high in 2007 when the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a major report stating that it was “very likely” that human activities were causing global warming and that the average temperature could rise by 6C by the end of the century.
Public interest in the IPCC report published last September was “much lower” even though it said that the evidence linking human activity to warming was even stronger than it had been in 2007.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, concludes that there has been “a strong decline in public attention to climate change since 2007” and that this could make it harder to win support for policies to cut emissions.