After the wettest two months ever recorded in some areas of the UK, public concern for the environment is on the rise, according to a new poll.
The February Economist/Ipsos MORI issues index found that one in 10 people list ‘pollution and the environment’ as one of the most important issues facing Britain today.
Unsurprisingly, concern is highest in the south of England, where the worst of the flooding took place.
Though the poll did not rank the environment in the top 10 most important issues according to respondents – issues such as the economy and immigration ranked higher – Ipsos MORI says this level is the highest recorded in six years.
The findings echo those of similar recent surveys. Earlier this month, a YouGov poll found that the number of people in Britain who identify the environment as the most pressing issue for the country had gone up by 14 percentage points in a month.
In January, only 9% of people interviewed believed that the environment was the most important issue for Britain. That figure has risen to 23%.
A separate YouGov poll also found that almost half of UK voters believe that the recent floods and storms are a result of climate change.
Forty-seven per cent of the people asked said they supported the view that “the flooding was probably the result of changing weather patterns due to climate change”, while 39% disagreed.
Though scientists have stressed that it is currently not possible to attribute individual weather events to climate change, there is growing evidence that global warming will increase the chances of such flooding hitting the UK again.
In a statement published earlier this month, the Met Office said that “daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense, and that the rate of increase is consistent with what is expected from the fundamental physics of a warming world”.
Chief scientist Dame Julia Slingo added, “There is no evidence to counter the basic premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly rain events. We have records going back to 1766 and we have nothing like this.”