Time to close gap between public view and reality of climate change

Updated: 2015-02-02 08:20

By Op Rana(China Daily)

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The Pew survey results are not surprising because there is a connection between the refusal to "accept the science of climate change and social and economic privilege". Most of the climate change deniers are not only conservative but also "white and male" - a group with higher than average income. Worse, members of this group are more prone to be highly confident of their views even if they are scientifically wrong.

The Pew study reveals the difference between perception (of the American public) and reality (which scientists, based on empirical evidence, believe in). If we juxtapose the American public with the people in the rest of the world, we are most likely to get the same result, but that doesn't change the reality, that the planet and its attributes are not what they should have been in natural circumstances and that humans are responsible for that because they are the only beings who have the power to alter it.

And as Alan Leshner, the chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a leading scientific organization that publishes the journal Science, said: "Speaking up for the importance of science to society is our only hope, and scientists must not shy away from engaging with the public, even on the most polarizing science-based topics." Factors, including political views on climate change and religious beliefs on evolution, are out to trump science because of lack of scientific understanding among people.

This is a dangerous trend in times when science should be ruling the minds of the people. This trend needs to be countered with the help of education programs sponsored by governments, especially governments in countries like China, which know what the reality of climate change is and how it can be mitigated.

Will China, and other countries most threatened by climate change, take up this challenge?

The author is a senior editor with China Daily. oprana@hotmail.com

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