Surveys and statistics aren’t always easy to interpret. Here’s one example:
When the Swedish SOM Institute recently presented their annual survey about what Swedes think about different things in society, the things that most people felt concerned by were
1. Environmental degradation
2. Climate change
3. The sea environment
After that come organized crime, unemployment and widespread corruption.
Conclusion: Swedes are worried about climate change and the environment.
But – on the list of today’s biggest problems in society, the environment isn’t to be found anywhere near the top. What does this mean?
Henrik Oscarsson, who is a professor in political science at the SOM Institute has one explanation:
– In the long perspective, the environment is a big concern to many, but in the short run it is more about topical issues like education and work. For those who want to influence people’s behaviour and change the public opinion, this becomes a bit of an opposition. To touch environmental issues you have to lift your eyes tens of years into the future, but nowadays it is difficult to reach out with those kinds of discussions, he says to the Swedish environment news site MiljöRapporten Direkt.
It is only human to worry most about the most imminent problems first, like making sure your children get a proper education or seeing that you have a job to go to next month.
The real challenge for environmental organisations, and everyone else who wants people to think about the future of the planet, is to show the links between the issues of today and Earth’s health.