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Polling reveals public trusts scientists most on climate

  • 02 Apr 2013, 10:45
  • Ros Donald

People in the UK overwhelmingly trust scientists more than any other source to give them accurate information about climate change, according to a new survey. In contrast, politicians and social media come joint last on the list.

Scientists most trusted

According to a new poll conducted for Carbon Brief by pollsters Opinium ,  69 per cent of those asked agreed that scientists and meteorologists are trustworthy sources of accurate information about climate science. Only seven per cent disagreed that scientists could be trusted to do this.

Next highest came 'green' charities such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, and BBC journalists and commentators, with 39 per cent and 31 per cent respectively saying they trusted these sources. But these groups divided opinion - 23 per cent don't trust green charities, and 25 per cent think the BBC can't be trusted to provide accurate information. 

Sharing last place: politicians and social media 

While scientists topped the trust league table, politicians, blogs and social media came bottom. Only seven per cent said they considered politicians to be reliable sources of climate change information - and websites and social didn't do any better, also scoring a seven per cent rating. 64 per cent said they didn't think politicians could be trusted to give them accurate information, compared to 53 per cent for social media sources.

Trust Graph

Question: How trustworthy do you think the following information sources are in providing you with accurate information about climate change? 

(Click image to enlarge)

Previous studies

Carbon Brief's results tally closely with a previous study Ipsos Mori carried out last February for Climate Week of around 1,000 respondents. Asked whose views they trust on climate change, 66 per cent of those asked said they trust scientists the most.

In this survey, celebrities were deemed least trustworthy, with only one per cent professing trust in their views on climate change.

A poll last year by press agency Associated Press tells a similar story. 67 per cent of those asked (in the USA) trust what scientists say about the environment either completely or a moderate amount.  21 per cent said they trusted scientists a little and 11 per cent said they didn't trust them at all.

A survey by Living with Environmental Change differs from the bulk of survey data. It says 51 per cent of those asked said they trusted "independent scientists" to tell the truth about climate change - but only 38 per cent agreed that climate scientists can be trusted to do so, according to the results of a second question.  

Carbon Brief polling

Carbon Brief conducted a poll of over 2,000 people, asking questions about their attitudes to climate change and energy policy. We have released the full results today -  you can download our climate polling results here and the energy findings here.

Here is the table this blog is based on (click image to enlarge):

Trust .png

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