More Australians Concerned About Nuclear War Than Climate Change

More Australians Concerned About Nuclear War Than Climate Change
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Edelman’s latest trust barometer shows Aussies are increasingly distrusting of institutions such as the government and media.

Australians have become increasingly sceptical about institutions to manage innovation and emerging technologies. Edelman’s 24th Trust Barometer revealed that no single institution (media, government, NGO representatives and business) has reached trusted territory.

Aussies are the second most likely (only behind the US) to say innovation is being poorly managed and that society is changing too quickly and happening in ways that will not benefit ‘people like me’ (73 per cent).

The report recommended that the government and business leaders move quickly to shape public sentiment on emerging technologies if they are to prevent the country’s confidence from further diminishing.

“Currently, many Australians feel that innovation is being mismanaged and tech is leaving them behind, which is in turn exacerbating divisions already prevalent in our society,” Edelman Australia chief executive Tom Robinson said. 

“This year’s Trust Barometer has shown that, to build trust in our institutions and their leaders in Australia, we need to work together in partnership, and be open to new, transparent models of communication. Australians want a forum to raise their concerns. They want information about new technologies and innovations which is balanced and which addresses those concerns in a real way.” 

Australians regard the government and media as ‘unethical institutions’, but less so than other western, global markets. 

The government and media are more trusted in most of the Asia-Pacific region. Australians perceive the government as 39 points less competent than business. 

Six in ten Australians worry that the government, business leaders and journalists are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or exaggerations.

Australia is aligned with global markets in trusting scientists (71 per cent) and our peers (73 per cent) to tell the truth about new innovations and technologies more than CEOs, NGO representatives, government leaders or journalists. 

Of the four institutions, only business is not distrusted to integrate innovation into society (53 per cent).

This year Australian’s societal fears are on par with economic concerns with 70 per cent worried about inflation, 78 per cent worried about hackers, 66 per cent about nuclear war, 63 per cent about climate change and 56 per cent about an information war.

“Australia remains an outlier in the Asia Pacific region in terms of entrenched scepticism and an ongoing dispersion of authority. Personal economic fears remain amidst the cost of living crisis but we’re witnessing a shift in societal fears,” Robinson added. 

“No longer are they dominated by energy and food shortages but instead by the increasing threat of hackers and, by extension, cyber security. Business, rather than government, carries the greatest burden of responsibility based on the levels of trust we hold. We found that many Australians believe government regulators lack adequate understanding of emerging technologies to effectively regulate them.”

AI and gene-based medicine are at a crossroads with more Australians rejecting the growing use of these innovations, than embracing them (53 per cent against versus 15 per cent for AI, and 35 per cent against versus 20 per cent for gene-based medicine). 

Green energy has garnered more support, with 44 per cent embracing it, although Australia is once again less positive than our APAC neighbours about this technology.

Australia and China are equally sceptical of government competence in understanding emerging technology enough to regulate it, tied as the fifth most cynical country (64 per cent) and trailing only Thailand, the UK, India and Italy.

Australia is also second in the global cohort in terms of the greatest difference in rejection of innovation between those whose political leanings are right versus left, with far greater rejection on the right (37 per cent across the four innovations) than on the left (14 per cent). 

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Edelman Australia Edelman Trust Barometer Tom Robinson

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