Have the colder nights made you think we’ve survived global warming?

If you’ve been living in Singapore, you would’ve realised that the nights are getting colder and it’s a daily struggle to wake up in the morning when you’re all wrapped up in your blankies.

Cold nights are a rarity in Singapore but have become a norm in the past month. Has it ever made you sceptical about all the hoo-hah on global warming?

A recent article published in Nature Climate Change, has shown that climate change judgements can depend on whether today’s temperature is warmer or colder than usual. that if one perceived today’s temperature as being warmer than usual, he or she would show greater belief and more concern for global warming. This phenomenon is termed the local warming effect

The intensity of extreme weather fluctuations is not unique to Singapore. As we’ve seen from broad media coverage, Canada and USA recently experienced their coldest, life-threatening winters.

Climate change is causing great weather variations but this is leading to greater confusion among the public and possibly less belief and concern over global warming.

The challenge in fighting climate change lies in the hands of the behaviour of the public. To communicate the problem of global warming and the call for action boils down to understanding how the public perceive it.

And so, researchers wanted to study the psychology behind the local warming effect to help explain the public’s perception of climate change and in turn, help develop better approaches and strategies to communicate the issue.

The researchers explored two possibilities of changing mindsets:

  • If tweaking the phrasing of survey questions would affect their perception of climate change based on the day’s temperature
  • If providing information, i.e., improving their knowledge, on climate change and weather variability would change their belief in global warming

Their results revealed that attempting to change the public’s view of global climate change influenced by transient temperature changes is not easy. Changes to survey terminology or enhanced scientific knowledge did not eliminate the effect of perceived temperature abnormalities.

 “The local warming effect is an important real-world demonstration of how opinion on important issue can be constructed in response to a direct enquiry, rather than retrieved from memory.”

Communication tools need to penetrate and dispel one’s perception of the climate based on personal experience. Heightened belief and concern of climate change should be instilled by conveying a better association between global warming and weather fluctuations.


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