Today, John Tierney writes about ‘The Global Warming Paradox‘, an account of a surprising research study from three researchers at Texas A&M University. Here is what they found, after interviewing a representative sample of 1,000 adults:
Directly, the more information a person has about global warming, the less responsible he or she feel for it; and indirectly, the more information a person has about global warming, the less concerned he or she is for it.
Results of the whole study appear in the February issue of Risk Analysis. John Tierney joins the chorus of people in the research: ‘I think it’s (global warming) a real risk, but I’m also confident that we’ll cope by adapting to climate change and/or finding ways to minimize it.
I disagree with John Tierney, and unlike him, am not so sure that ‘we’ll cope‘. It is going to take more than technology and science to come even close to a happy resolution. Leadership at the top, business solutions, technology and science yes, financial incentives, individual behavioral changes, community initiatives, a new code of ethics, international diplomacy, population control measures, lots of goodwill at all levels, . . . the problem needs to be attacked from all possible angles. It is monumental in proportions and requires solutions of the same magnitude.
Back to the study itself, it is important to frame the results within the larger context of the research methodology:
It should be noted that the information effects reported in this article are limited to self-reported information. Objective measures of informedness about global warming and climate change might produce different effects. And indeed there is some scholarly evidence to suggest that this might be the case. In their models of mass assessments of the risks of genetically modified foods, Durant and Legge found that self-reported informedness and objective measures of informedness were almost entirely uncorrelated, and that their effects worked in opposite directions.