While They’re Young

We’ve been talking a lot about how to “change people’s minds” — how, when, if, etc. Here’s some recent research that supports much of what we’ve concluded: most adults are set in their mindsets and filter out information that doesn’t align with their values, but children and teenagers are more open-minded. I’ll post the whole extract below. Emphasis mine:

Research shows that many adults interpret scientific findings within a framework of preexisting values and beliefs.

STEVENSON: “Among adults, our risk perceptions of climate change really have very little to do with how much we understand science and has much more to do with who we are.”

That’s Kathryn Stevenson, a researcher at North Carolina State University. She says that when someone denies that global warming is real, even the most convincing climate science can make them more entrenched in their views.

STEVENSON: “They’re just really good at taking these facts and filing them away in ways that reinforce their world views. The implication is that we can’t just teach people, we can’t just throw the science at them. It’s not going to be convincing enough. We have to appeal to people’s values and all of that.”

However, most adolescents have not yet formed strong ideological views, so they tend to respond differently when presented with the science of climate change.

take the kids outside!
take the kids outside!

STEVENSON: “The effect of world views seems to go away with kids instead of become stronger as knowledge increases.”

Stevenson says that is good news for educators.

STEVENSON: “So climate change education the way we’re doing it, which is more science based with kids, that’s probably going to be effective.”

A Future Not So Bright

Authors and scientists Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway give us a view of what exactly the year 2393 looks like on our planet and the thorough history behind why it does in the science-fiction cli-fi piece, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From The Future. It portrays a history, our time, full of denial and unwillingness to do something about the seriousness of climate change. While reading this book, you can’t help but see this type of behavior when looking at our present day society and finding the amount of repudiation about climate change to be immense. It is not till everything begins to fall apart for humanity that we start believing the predictions of the future impacts of climate change to be extremely true and enacting climate projects made years ago. Authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway show us what happens when we ignore all the warnings that were presented to us so obviously years and years ago. Our time is the beginning of what is recorded as a “tragic period of human history.” If that phrase about our time on this earth doesn’t send shivers down your spine, then I don’t know what will. This short yet greatly detailed book embodies science-based fiction and history all into a thought-provoking and truly frightening piece. In my own opinion, yes, the science part of this short read does become overwhelming at times. However, overall this book is a good read and definitely does it’s job in shocking the reader with an extremely alarming, yet highly plausible future.

Green Planet Blues


I just came across this book review of a new edition of a collection called Green Planet Blues: Critical Perspectives on Global Environmental Politics. The review itself provides a quick introduction to a handful of important issues in global politics, and the news isn’t great.

greenplanetYet, today, many concerned about climate change are frustrated. Global policies develop slowly in relation to the scale of problems. Although many political leaders around the world express concern about global warming and environmental degradation, the political will to take effective action is lacking.

two amusing climate change links

First, from The Onion, in response to the study I posted about last week: Study: Earth 44% Doomed


In less fictional but equally farcical news, the US Senate yesterday voted on whether climate change is caused by human activity, and decided that it’s not.  In class last night, we discussed the political discourse around climate change, and how divisive of an issue it has become across partisan lines in the US. Yesterday’s vote is a clear example: Democrats in the Senate brought this resolution to vote in the hope of shaming Republicans into admitting that climate change isn’t a big deal, which is more or less exactly what happened, as anyone could have predicted. So, in effect, 60 American politicians decided to vote on whether global scientific consensus is correct, and decided that the scientists are wrong.

“Climate is changing and climate has always changed and always will,” Inhofe told the Senate. “The hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate. Man can’t change climate.”

Worse than Global Warming

An impressive graft related to the study on the Anthropocene that I posted about on Friday, via Mother Jones, who title their post “We’re Destroying the Planet in Ways That Are Even Worse Than Global Warming

While climate change may be the most familiar term we use when talking about humanity’s impact on the earth, other aspects are equally important to our shared future. In short, these changes are making the planet a more dangerous and uncertain place for human life.

New Research on the Anthropocene and Climate Change

Yesterday a team of researchers published a new article on the Anthropocene, the proposed new geological era I talked about in class last week. It’s called “The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration,” and focuses on the period post-1945 when human activity of all forms spiked dramatically. A slew of websites are now reporting on the new research. Here’s a summary statement by the IFLScience! blog post “Humanity Is In The Existential Danger Zone, Study Confirms”:

And so to the very bad news. Given the importance of biodiversity to the functioning of the Earth’s climate and the other planetary boundaries, it is with real dismay that this study adds yet more evidence to the already burgeoning pile that concludes we appear to be doing our best to destroy it as fast as we possibly can.

Bad news indeed. The most significant part of the study is the 24 graphs the authors compiled from their data; together, they argue, these form a “planetary dashboard” of indicators of humanity’s impact upon the planet. Half of them are Socio-Economic and the other are trends in Earth Systems, but the two are deeply intertwined: two strict split between “Social” and “Natural” here — that distinction has disintegrated.

planetary-dashboard (1)

The article itself can be downloaded here, and  there’s a short summary by one of the co-authors posted on the blog of The Anthropocene Review.