"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." --Bishop Desmond Tutu

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Don't worry, you're not alone

A majority of Americans would flunk a Climate Science test if forced to take one.  This is not surprising considering the volume of anti-information out there about climate change.  But a new study published by Yale University lays bare the extent that this propaganda campaign has succeeded in obfuscating the realities of global climate change for Americans.
The study found that 63 percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening, but many do not understand why. In this assessment, only 8 percent of Americans have knowledge equivalent to an A or B, 40 percent would receive a C or D, and 52 percent would get an F. The study also found important gaps in knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change and the earth system. These misconceptions lead some people to doubt that global warming is happening or that human activities are a major contributor, to misunderstand the causes and therefore the solutions, and to be unaware of the risks. Thus many Americans lack some of the knowledge needed for informed decision-making in a democratic society. For example, only:

  • 57% know that the greenhouse effect refers to gases in the atmosphere that trap heat;
  • 50% of Americans understand that global warming is caused mostly by human activities;
  • 45% understand that carbon dioxide traps heat from the Earth’s surface;
  • 25% have ever heard of coral bleaching or ocean acidification.

Meanwhile, large majorities incorrectly think that the hole in the ozone layer and aerosol spray cans contribute to global warming, leading many to incorrectly conclude that banning aerosol spray cans or stopping rockets from punching holes in the ozone layer are viable solutions.
Fully 52% of Americans would fail a test of climate science facts.  Frankly, I'm not surprised.  And I guarantee that this number is not evenly distributed.  Given you start with a core base of 26% of the population who identify themselves as "Republicans" who are likely to all fail, it's not surprising that the balance would come from the remaining 74% of the population.

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