Thursday, October 21, 2010

Climate Change
Half of Americans get an F

I missed this survey released by some Yale folks last week that examines what people know (or think they know) about climate change.

Half of Americans get an F.  Only 8 percent nail it with an A or B grade. Sounds like my writing class.
Check out the site and the accompanying pdf with more details.  Given I have to be in class soon, let me just shamelessly lift a section and hope you'll take the time to read the rest.  Or, if time allows, I'll post more.
Overall, we 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.

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