We had a new study come out today that used Google search engine data to look at the effects of media events, such as the 2009 'climategate' hacking of climate scientists emails in the UK, on public interest in climate change. We found that these events had very fleeting effect on public interest and search terms indicating skepticism.
A more worry finding, however, was that long-term public interest appears to be declining since 2007. This is potentially a problem for motivating action on climate change.
The study is freely available - check it out!
Media storms attacking the science of climate change have only a fleeting effect on the public's interest and do not appear to alter opinions, according to new research. Oxford University scientists used the Google Trends tool to track web searches related to global warming over the past decade but found that peaks of interest in major stories, such as the leaking of climate scientists emails in 2009 – dubbed “climategate” – disappeared within a few weeks. “We found that intense media coverage of an event such as 'climategate' was followed by bursts of public interest, but these bursts were short-lived,” said Greg Goldsmith at the University of Oxford. “This suggests no long-term change in the level of climate change scepticism.”