Saturday, May 17, 2014

Climate Change & Renewables - 3: Deniers

So why do so many Americans not accept climate change science?  The extent of the denial seems unique to the US.

1. Sociology professor Aaron McCright argues that conservatives, backed by energy producers, started mobilizing earlier here than in other countries and simply by publishing a lot of articles have sown doubt in those who try to be open minded.  He cites a study of the US news media as one which presents Climate Change data as controversial while other countries' media present it as scientific information.

See the article with research links here:

2. Writer Jamie Horgan notes that 2/3 of Chinese consider climate change and environmental degradation as real and serious, nearly double that of Americans.  He attributes this to the undeniable and highly visible pollution that Chinese face which is far easier to grasp than the scientific data with least-squares trend lines, correlation coefficients, and 95% confidence intervals that Americans are presented with.  In addition, he blames some in the environmental movement itself for trying to arouse the average American by emphasizing the "worst case scenario" - painting a threat of destruction drawn from Hollywood disaster movies.  When those turn out to not be the case, it discredits the entire concept.  He then comes down on the side of shale gas, GMOs, and nuclear energy.

See the brief article with research links here:

3.  Sociology professor Kari Norgaard argues that Americans are well informed about global warming but feel helpless in the face of political gridlock.  Far more important than conservative arguments denying climate change is the feeling - pervasive throughout advanced countries but strongest in the US - that it isn't anything an individual can do something about.  Political alienation is pervasive in the US with the feeling that energy cos. control the govt. so the individual is helpless and who wants to think about something you can't do anything about.  Paradoxically, it seems the more people know about climate change, the greater the apathy.  Also paradoxically, it appears that the greater a country's greenhouse gas emissions, the greater the feeling of helplessness.  People look at how they live and can't figure out what they could realistically do differently to cut emissions.

Her paper examining this and other explanations for apathy is here:

Her short summary with links is here:

4.  Dr. Algernon Austin (sociology - Economic Policy Institute) notes that 80% of the Hispanic and African-American communities accept global warming (vs 60% of whites) and a majority attribute it to human activity (vs 41% of whites).  He argues that these groups face the reality of pollution and environmental degradation more directly since their regions (FL and the Southwest) and neighborhoods are where it is most visible.  They take it seriously and 84% want the Federal govt. to do something about it.

See the brief article with research links here:

5.  Michael Breen (former US Army officer) states that the US military is very concerned with climate change because of the destabilizing effects it has in dangerous areas. For example, "in 2010, floods in nuclear-armed Pakistan put 20 percent of the country underwater, affecting more than 20 million people. The disaster stopped an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in its tracks"  This is supported by recent analyses by independent research agencies and the US Defense Dept. threat assessment "In March, the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, the agency’s main public document describing the current doctrine of the United States military, drew a direct link between the effects of global warming — like rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns — and terrorism."

NYT articles with links  here:

6.  Greenpeace's Executive Director Annie Leonard argues that in fact more and more disparate groups are seeing the threat locally working against such things as fracking and 2/3 (including a majority of Republicans) favor restrictions on power plant emissions.  She notes a growing grass-roots movement.  

Her brief summary article with links is here:

No comments:

Post a Comment