WELLINGTON, March 29 (Xinhua) -- New Zealanders are becoming increasingly convinced that climate change is real and that human activity has caused it, according to research out Wednesday.
The study from Victoria University and the University of Auckland examined climate change beliefs over a six-year period from 2009.
"The two beliefs we investigated were if people believe climate change is real, and if people believe climate change is caused by humans," said study leader Dr Taciano Milfont, of Victoria University.
"We found that the levels of agreement to both beliefs have steadily increased over the six-year period. This increase in belief has been most pronounced in more recent years, from about 2013 onwards," Milfont said in a statement.
The study found 33 percent of New Zealanders strongly agreed climate change was real in 2009 while 4 percent strongly disagreed, with other respondents ranged over a spectrum in between.
In 2014, 40 percent strongly agreed it was real and 2 percent strongly disagreed.
In 2009, 17 percent strongly agreed humans were the cause of climate change while 6 percent strongly disagreed, but in 2014, 26 percent strongly agreed and 3 percent strongly disagreed.
"Overall, belief in the reality of climate change was higher at all times than agreement with the idea that climate change is caused by humans. But people who tended to increase their level of agreement in one climate change belief also tended to increase their agreement level in the other belief," said Milfont.
"Past research has relied on a snapshot of data from one-off public opinion polls. But data from opinion polls are based on distinct individuals. We are the first to examine whether climate change beliefs held by the same group of individuals, in this case, more than 10,000 New Zealanders, are changing or not."
The increase in climate change beliefs could be attributed to a number of factors.
"Other studies suggest that climate change beliefs and concerns may change after exposure to extreme weather events as well as mainstream media and awareness campaigns," Milfont said.
Other studies also suggest that political affiliation and political ideology were the main predictors of climate change belief, and self-reported conservatives showed low agreement levels in both climate change reality and its human causation.
This suggested that the observed increase in climate change beliefs was greater among politically liberal individuals.
"Given that climate change beliefs and concerns are key predictors of climate change action, our findings indicate that a combination of targeted communications endeavors may successfully convey the urgency of the issue," said Milfont.