<a href="http://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/blogs/leon#">The Business of Green</a>

The Business of Green

Money matters in the green world, by Leon Gettler.

Can we win the climate change debate?

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The latest opinion polls aren’t looking for the environmental lobby.

According to the latest Gallup Poll, half the American population now believes the impact of climate change is exaggerated.

According to the poll, 35 per cent say the effects of global warming either will never happen (19 per cent) or won’t happen in their lifetimes (16 per cent). The percentage of Americans who believe that global warming is going to affect them or their way of life in their lifetimes has dropped to 32 per cent from 40 per cent in 2008.

This a trend happening around the world. Last year, a Lowy poll showed that fewer Australian now regard climate change as a serious problem.

And a BBC poll in Britain in February (pdf here) found that more people now believe global warming is not taking place.

Some might say the shift has happened because of the climate-gate controversy, but the reality is the ground started shifting last year before any of that blew up. It might have something to do with people’s priorities changing in the global financial crisis.

Still, the bottom line is that we still have a problem regardless of the economic crisis. In fact, the latest edition of Scientific American tells us that CO2 emissions have risen to new highs despite the financial crisis. While industry has slowed down, molecules of carbon linger in the atmosphere for many years. Economics has nothing to do with it!

So we have a problem. Climate change continues to get worse and public opinion is shifting towards those who say it isn’t problem. The scientists and environmentalists seem to be losing the debate. How do we turn this around?

Writing in The Guardian, George Monbiot says there are no simple solutions. The more you hit people with facts these days, he says, the more they turn away.

The Huffington Post has its solutions. It says we need to change the debate. We need to focus on connecting climate change and the energy crisis and also reminding people about the economics and business case to do something about the problem. If nothing is done, it will cost the world a lot more.

How do we turn around the debate? What should scientists, environmentalists and green businesses do to convince the public we have a problem?