by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Stuck at 68%

The Policy Institute of King’s College, London this week provides us a report from our government/NGO section, Public perceptions on climate change (pdf). The authors survey citizens of six European Union countries. A key finding is a bit disturbing: despite the scientific consensus on anthropogenic (human caused) climate change having converged long ago at 98%+, the Policy Institute reports public understanding of this statistic hovering at about 68%.

Why does this information gap matter? In various styles of (or attempts at) democratic governance, public policy is powered by political pressure; impetus for change derives from people (us) voting. Meanwhile, public perceptions of climate change are substantially influenced by public understanding of scientific consensus. This only figures— we look to experts to help us make important decisions.  Industrial interests defending various profitable products belatedly found to be harmful have understood this for decades, which is why promoting fictitious impressions of lack of scientific consensus is a key tactic for manipulating voters. Attacking our collective competence is an effective way to delay critical decisions that must involve public participation.

Other notables:

A perspective on climate change from Earth’s energy imbalance. Cast as a perspective piece and authored by power duo Kevin Trenberth and Lijing Cheng, this article is a recap of what we do and don’t know about Earth’s energy imbalance (EEI). We track planetary warming here down where we and other creatures live by measuring ocean and atmospheric heat content. EEI is another way of seeing Earth’s warming; the lagging “temperature” of our planet as viewed from space is another way of assessing accumulating heat energy down below. This write-up is a complete education on the topic, and highly accessible.

Putting climate-induced migration in context: the case of Honduran migration to the USA.  A fascinating investigation and narrative of how a developing, lucrative market for agricultural products (here, coffee) may collide with climate change to produce a surge of migration. “Connect the dots.”
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