Three quarters of the UK population believe climate change is the biggest crisis facing humanity today – but many are ‘confused’ about how they can help.
A study of 2,000 adults found human behaviour is considered to have had a bigger effect on the environment than deforestation and fossil fuels.
More than one third believe over-population has had an impact, with 40 per cent not having more than three children as a result.
One in 10 would even avoid having kids altogether to do their bit for the planet.
But 52 per cent are confused about how they can help with the issue of climate change, with four in five believing the nation needs more education.
And half consider this lack of knowledge to be one of the barriers to dealing with climate change, along with an unwillingness to change and a lack of investment in renewable energy.
The study, commissioned by The School of Health, also found 83 per cent think the government need to take the lead and do more to help.
Mani Norland, Principal of The School of Health, said: “The research shows that while the majority feel rightly worried and anxious about climate change, they’re not sure how they can contribute or help.
“It’s clear that individuals want the government to take the lead, invest more and set a plan in place.
“Considering climate change is the biggest health risk to all humans and more, it’s interesting to see how people are willing to change.
“This has the potential to be an exciting and positive time, making changes and improving the health of our planet will surely make us all feel better about the world and our impact on it – regenerating nature, wildlife and the environment we live in.”
The study found that in order to try and do their bit to help, four in 10 would happily give up their diesel car and one sixth is prepared to swap their current vehicle for an electric one in the ‘near future’.
Almost one third would avoid flying for business and 22 per cent are even prepared to avoid flying for pleasure.
More than two thirds would willingly stop using plastic packaging and bags and 40 per cent would stop charging equipment overnight, such as phones and televisions.
Seven in 10 would also be happy to reduce, or even give up, consuming red meat.
But while the nation seems happy to make lifestyle changes, 41 per cent would only consider solar electricity panels if they were government-funded.
It also emerged more than half think the authorities should invest more in green energy while 45 per cent believe they should subsidise more home green initiatives.
Highlighting the results of climate change in the present day, one eighth of those polled know someone who has been affected by an extreme weather event – with more than one third of these being storm damage and flooding.
A further 44 per cent of those polled via OnePoll admitted they are ‘worried’ about their health due to the impact of climate change and half are concerned over the amount of chemicals in medicines.
As a result of this people would use more complementary and alternative medicine – almost three quarters would consider using homeopathy if they thought it could conserve energy and protect the environment.
Mani Norland added: “As educators in natural medicine we have a passion for health and the biggest health risk to humans today is climate change.
“David Attenborough has been publicising climate change on the BBC, school children have taken to the streets calling for government action, we’ve seen protests in London and major cities around the world – and this report clearly shows people are ready to make a change but want the government to take the lead.
“We need more green taxes, more renewables, farming reformation, fewer CO2 emissions – but what can people at home do, right now, to make a difference? What are the everyday things we can all do?
The School of Health has created a list of 20 things people can do to feel empowered and engaged.
20 things you can personally do to help solve climate change
1. Cut down on meat, especially beef and lamb. Make meat a special treat.
2. Shop local – buy food that is in season and produced locally (avoid air freighted products).
3. Say 'no' to unnecessary plastic packaging by selecting loose items and reusing shopping bags.
4. Avoid products containing palm oil – it’s in around half of all products in the supermarket.
5. Consume less – buy smart and buy less. Make things last. Eat all your bought food.
6. Reduce, recycle and reuse everything you can. Change your mindset. Carry your own water bottle and use rechargeable batteries.
7. Switch to a green energy supplier.
8. Use less energy – turn the heating down, don’t over-fill the kettle or leave the tap running.
9. Wash at low temperatures and hang clothes out to dry (don’t tumble dry).
10. Turn off appliances and chargers overnight – don’t leave on standby.
11. Move your money to an ethical bank that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels.
12. Insulate your home better with double glazing, draught excluders and loft lagging.
13. Install solar panels.
14. Buy an electric or hybrid car when you can.
15. Drive less, walk more, work from home, get a bike, use the bus, car share.
16. Fly less and have more UK holidays.
17. Grow your own veg.
18. Re-wild your garden and local community – plant some trees, encourage insects and wildlife.
19. Consider using natural systems of medicine to promote healthy people and a healthy planet.
20. Write to your MP to ask them what the Government is doing to protect the planet.
- Take the Health of the Planet survey yourself here and find out more here.
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