Norway is one of the world’s richest countries – and the fifth worst in Europe for CO2 emissions in relation to its population. At the same time, Norwegians are amongst the least worried about the consequences of climate change.
It’s the same across the globe: the level of concern in a country’s population is precisely correlated with two things: that country’s gross national project (GNP) and the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The more a country has of both, the less worried its population is about the consequences of global warming, according to a global study conducted by Hanno Sandvik, a postdoc at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.
Dutch are least worried
Sandvik used the results from an electronic survey that was conducted in 46 countries as the basis for his work. The survey encompassed countries from every inhabited continent and with different economies – aside from poor developing lands where an internet-based survey wouldn’t work.
The survey showed that the world’s least climate-worried population lives in the country that will be the first to notice that sea level is rising – the Netherlands. Next in line were Russia, the USA, Latvia and Estonia. In Western Europe, the carefree Dutch were followed by the similarly unworried Danes, Belgians, Norwegians and Finns.
Most of these people have access to all the information they could possibly want – and then some. Why the lack of concern about climate change?
Other researchers have looked for explanatory reasons and variables that are inherent in the country itself: gender, age, education level, family income, political views and so forth. Sandvik is the first who has looked for explanations at the national level.
“People are all too willing to repress unpleasant truths, particularly if one is responsible for something that’s not good. I had a theory that the countries that contribute the most to global warming might perhaps have a population that would rather not believe so much in the dangers from climate change,” Sandvik says.
When Sandvik compared data on level of concern to data on emissions, he found support for his theory: the more responsibility a country had for causing global warming, the greater the tendency of its citizens to explain away or ignore the problem. And as a country’s emissions levels increased, the level of concern sank even further.
The biggest emissions bad boys in the world, by population, are the United Arab Emirates, the USA, Canada, Australia and Estonia. In Western Europe, Finland is the worst, followed by Ireland, Denmark, Belgium and Norway. All of these countries scored conspicuously high when it came to lack of concern.
The rich would rather not share
The most striking connection came when Sandvik compared the level of worry data to the GNP for the 46 countries: the richer the land, the less worried its population.
The five richest countries in the dataset were Norway, the United States, Ireland, Denmark and Canada. All of these countries are also considered to be among the worst in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. That consequently doubles the fertile ground for the lack of worry. Researchers were not particularly surprised by the findings. All “idealism research” shows that those who are most well off are always the least willing to contribute.
“If you take global warming to heart, you understand that you have to sacrifice something. And the richer you are, the less willing you are to sacrifice. It’s far more pleasant to decide that you actually don’t quite believe in the climate threat”, Sandvik says.
The study is being published in the journal Climatic Change.
By Lisa Olstad
Nina Tveter | alfa
Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF
Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences