Minggu, 02 Maret 2008

Global Warming and Science Literacy

If people really understood global warming they’d be more concerned about it, right? Wrong! According to a recent survey, respondents who are more informed about global warming and who have a high confidence in scientists “feel less responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming” (Personal Efficacy, the Information Environment, and Attitudes Toward Global Warming and Climate Change in the United States. Risk Analysis 28:113-1267, 2008).

Why is that? The authors suggest that its because “Global warming is an extreme collective action dilemma, with the actions of one person having a negligible effect in the aggregate.” They suggest that because informed persons understand this, they tend to feel less personally responsible and more pessimistic about their ability as individuals to change the outcome.

Okay, informed persons may feel less responsible, but why are they less concerned? One possible explanation is that people who are informed about science tend to trust that scientists will find a technological solution. After all, we’ve sent men to the moon, discovered antibiotics, and developed computers, haven’t we?

How confident are your students that scientists will find technological solutions to global warming in their lifetimes? Do they see any technological solutions on the horizon?

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