Climate change: heard about it, still don’t get it

November 1, 2008 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

Everyone has heard about climate change, but what do we really understand? If the temperature rises, what will be the consequences? How soon will they appear? If we need to do something about climate change, how much do we need to do and how soon do we need to do it?

A recent Times magazine article, “What the Public Doesn’t Get About Climate Change” by Bryan Walsh (Oct 28), contrasts views held by the American public with views held by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

“In a paper that came out Oct. 23 in Science, John Sterman — a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Sloan School of Management — wrote about asking 212 MIT grad students to give a rough idea of how much governments need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by to eventually stop the increase in the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere. These students had training in science, technology, mathematics and economics at one of the best schools in the world — they are probably a lot smarter than you or me. Yet 84% of Sterman’s subjects got the question wrong, greatly underestimating the degree to which greenhouse gas emissions need to fall.”

Sterman’s students, all of them deeply versed in the language and concepts of science, mathematics, and modeling, grossly underestimated what kind of action was needed on carbon emissions and how soon action is needed to prevent worst-case scenarios. No wonder the public doesn’t get it. Do you get it?



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Oct 31 meeting notes Real Green Action

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