The Bishop for the Environment has welcomed the growing awareness and progress being made in efforts to tackle climate change but has warned society not to become complacent.
His warning comes as new research suggests people underestimate how hot the world has become and how much plastic waste has ended up in the environment.
Misconceptions about the impact humans are having on the planet are widespread, according to the study by the Policy Institute at King’s College London.
Only a quarter of people quizzed by Ipsos Mori for the research correctly identified that all 20 of the world’s hottest years on record had occurred in the last 22 years.
On average, people guessed that 12 of the hottest years had occurred in that time, the figures show.
Members of the public also underestimate how much plastic waste has ended up in the environment, suggesting on average that just under half (49 per cent) of the 6.3 billion tonnes of the material created globally has ended up in landfill or as litter – when the true figure is 79 per cent.
Just nine per cent has been recycled, far lower than the average estimate of 26 per cent by people polled.
“People’s awareness of the reality of climate change and the damage that we are doing to our planet, our common home, is certainly growing,” the Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, told The Catholic Universe.
“Let’s be glad of the progress that has been made but we cannot be complacent. We face a crisis of global proportions and a catastrophe for those who come after us.
“In my own diocese I can see greater awareness, especially in schools, which is a cause for hope,” he added. “Nevertheless, there is so much more to be done, and done quickly, to heal and protect our environment.”
Picture: Plastic waste pollutes a sandy beach. (PA).