Concern over climate change has taken a back seat to economic concerns in developed nations, a recent poll indicates.
The economy concerns and more immediate environmental issues, such as air and water pollution, water shortages, waste disposal and use of pesticides, have edged out climate change concerns among Internet users worldwide polld by Nielsen.
Among more than 25,000 Internet users in 51 countries, 69 percent were concerned about global warming, slightly up from 66 percent in a similar poll in 2009 but down from 72 percent in 2007.
Focus on immediate worries such as job security, local school quality and economic well-being have all diminished media attention for climate stories in the past two years, said Maxwell Boykoff, who was an adviser to the survey and is senior visiting research associate at the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute.
Wim Hof of Holland, 51, who holds a Guinness world record for the longest amount of time swimming under ice, immerses himself in ice water during a promotional event to raise public awareness of global warming, in Hong Kong December 29, 2010.
In China, the world's top greenhouse gas emitter, 64 percent, down from 77 percent in the last two years, were worried about climate change. In the U.S., the second biggest emitter and the only major industrialized nation which is not a signatory U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol for curbing emissions, the number of those concerned has fallen steadily to 48 percent, from 51 percent in 2009 and 62 percent in 2007, reports Reuters.
Americans, like other people, are more worried about economic concerns like fuel prices and unemployment than the environment, but lobbying by powerful energy interests against climate legislation may also be a factor, Boykoff told Reuters.
Many Republicans, including Texas Gov. and presidential candidate Rick Perry, deny or question that humans are changing the climate.
When it comes to the current Republican primaries this fall, and the general election next year, this climate correctness in candidates right-of-center often means contesting the notion that humans contribute to climate change, Boykoff said.
A Gallup poll showed that 50 percent of Americans in 2010, down from 61 percent the previous year, believed that global warming results from human causes.
Meanwhile, climate change concerns have gone up in developing nations. The regions with the highest levels of concern were Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific.