Americans Still Don’t Know What Climate Change Is, Google Shows
World leaders took a major step forward Saturday when they reached an accord on curbing the climate change crisis facing our planet — but if Google search data is anything to go by, Americans are barely aware that there was a problem to begin with.
A look at Google Trends data on Monday shows that the “top questions” people in the United States typed into the search engine include “Is climate change real?” and “Why is climate change important?”
While the chart above will update as the most popular queries on Google change, the top five questions on climate change paint a pretty bleak picture: Many American Googlers apparently don’t know what climate change is, aren’t sure that it’s real and don’t get why they should care.
Compared to Google searches around the world in the past week, Americans were also less interested in the United Nation’s climate conference (the 21st Conference of the Parties, or COP21) hosted in Paris over the last couple weeks. Note again that this interactive map will change as time goes on:
Google’s data shows that, in the past week, the United States ranked 56th in terms of interest in the COP21 summit. Togo, Cameroon and Burkina Faso were the top three most interested, according to the search data.
Everyone should care about climate change for the basic reason that, hey, it’s pretty neat to live on planet Earth, and it’d be cool if future generations could continue to do so comfortably. But Americans have a particularly large weight on their shoulders: The United States has contributed significantly more to global warming overall than any country.