Study: Climate change replaces terror attacks as Czechs’ biggest fear

Photo: Jeroen Moes, CC BY-SA 2.0

Czechs are increasingly concerned about threats related to climate change, suggests a freshly published survey. According to the study by the Median agency, they are mostly worried about drinking water becoming scarce and the impact of drought on the food harvest. On the other hand, Czechs are less afraid of terrorism than in the past, the poll indicates.

Photo: Jeroen Moes,  CC BY-SA 2.0
For several years, attacks in Europe by Islamic State were regarded by Czechs as the greatest possible threat they were facing. But recent alarming reports on climate change and first-hand experience with prolonged periods of drought seem to have changed their opinion.

Research conducted by the Median agency in December among more than 1,000 respondents shows that an increasing number of Czechs are worried about the impacts of climate change. Median sociologist Daniel Prokop:

“The perception of environmental threats has changed significantly. People are most afraid of the climate change and its impact on the food harvest and on the mass migration of people across the continents.

“Last year, it was still perceived as a marginal problem and only 38 percent of respondents regarded it as very serious, while today it is 52 percent.”

When asked whether they would be willing to restrict the use of drinking water, around 60 percent of the respondents said they definitely would.

“It differs slightly with regard to education and age. What is interesting is that the older generation is more willing to make changes, because we tend to associate environmental behaviour with younger people, and women are more willing to restrict themselves.”

Czechs still regard the threat of attacks by Islamic State in Europe as a major danger. However, the percentage who considered the attacks a serious threat dropped from 70 percent last year to about 50 percent now. Daniel Prokop again:

Daniel Prokop,  photo: Jan Bartoněk / Czech Radio
“Fear of terrorist attacks depends on what is currently happening in the society. When there are terrorist attacks taking place, the percentage of people who are seriously worried about them increases to around 70 percent, but right now it dropped to around 50 percent. So terrorism and climate change are currently regarded as equally dangerous threats.”

With the growing awareness of environmental issues, an increasing number of Czechs are also showing symptoms of so-called climate anxiety, says psychologist Jan Krajhanzl.

“Qualitative research shows that, for example, children in basic schools have anxious visions when asked about the future of this planet. We also know that a growing number of people are adapting their lifestyle or even considering not having children in order to save the environment.”

According to Mr Krajhanzl, Czechs are more sensitive to more obvious problems, such as drought or waste pollution, but they are less susceptible to other issues, such as increasing temperature or the extinction of species.