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Google search patterns suggest declining interest in the environment

Abstract

Public interest in most aspects of the environment is sharply declining relative to other subjects, as measured by internet searches performed on Google. Changes in the search behavior by the public are closely tied to their interests, and those interests are critical to driving public policy. Google Insights for Search (GIFS) was a tool that provided access to search data but is now combined with another tool, Google Trends. We used GIFS to obtain data for 19 environment-related terms from 2001 to 2009. The only environment-related term with large positive slope was climate change. All other terms that we queried had strong negative slopes indicating that searches for these topics dropped over the last decade. Our results suggest that the public is growing less interested in the environment.

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Acknowledgments

We thank R. Bruce Bury for review of our manuscript. Any use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the authors.

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Correspondence to Malcolm L. Mccallum.

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Mccallum, M.L., Bury, G.W. Google search patterns suggest declining interest in the environment. Biodivers Conserv 22, 1355–1367 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-013-0476-6

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Keywords

  • Public opinion
  • Sustainability
  • Environment
  • Google insights for search
  • Google