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CLIMATE CHANGE: NO WORRIES March 17, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Humankind/Planet Earth.
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Citizens of the United States are slowing a decreasing concern with climate change according to a recent Gallop Poll. The explanation suggested is that other concerns have become more pressing.

The Guardian carries an AFP report:

The number of Americans who are worried about global warming has fallen to nearly the historic low reached in 1998, a poll released Monday showed.

Just 51 percent of Americans – or one percentage point more than in 1998 – said they worry a great deal or fair amount about climate change, Gallup’s annual environment poll says.

In 2008, a year after former US vice president Al Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the Nobel Peace Prize, two-thirds of Americans were concerned about climate change.

The rate of concern among Americans has fallen steadily since then to 60 percent in 2009 and 52 percent last year.

The poll also found that for the first time since the late 1990s, a minority of Americans – 49 percent – believe global warming has already begun to impact the planet, down sharply from more than six in 10 Americans who three years ago said climate change was already impacting the globe.

“The reasons for the decline in concern are not obvious, though the economic downturn could be a factor,” Gallup analysts say, citing a poll from two years ago that shows that in the minds of Americans, economy takes precedence over environment.

The pollsters also found that a plurality of Americans – 43 percent – think the media exaggerates the seriousness of global warming, and that how Americans view climate change and its impacts varies widely depending on their political beliefs.

What is surprising about these poll results is that apparent lack of concern among a significant portion of respondents for the well being of the children and grandchildren. Furthermore, it is interesting that 1998 was an exceptionally hot year due to the el nino effect. 2010 was also warm. The sun has not been at its strongest in terms of radiating energy, yet according to the information produced by NASA the pattern of global warming has continued. The problem is that climate science is difficult to understand because of the multiple factors and counter factors at work. The disinformation campaign has encouraged people to adopt emotional polarities rather than assessment of evidence.

In its essence, we might be missing something more important that seems to be in evidence in other contemporary events. Rabbi Arthur Waskow observes:

In human culture, knowing when to Do and when to Pause, when to restrain one’s self, when to encourage a community instead of gobbling up all wealth and power for one’s self, is crucial. All the great traditions tried to teach this wisdom. Indeed, it was what made them great, able to live across millennia.

When some human institution of Power-Over over-reached, ran amok – like Pharaoh, the Babylonian Empire, Rome – the corrective came in a great new surge of community – new kinds of community. But Modernity has become an adventure in Over-reaching, Over-powering, far beyond any previous imperial power.

And the result has been General Electric’s convincing Japanese governments that its expertise could overpower earthquakes and tsunamis, that nuclear energy was more “profitable” than wind or solar energy could ever be, that the “cost” of a billion dollars each for these brittle power plants was better spending than conserving energy in the first place, learning to live within limits, encouraging decentralized arrays of sun and wind power that lived in the nooks and crannies of the Earth instead of trying to dominate it.

And the spending WAS better – for General Electric. And for BP. And for Massey Coal. But not better for the Earth or human earthlings.

The polluting industries continue to be given free rein to pollute the global commons, the consequences are certain to visited upon the inhabitants of the planet, if not now then in the future. Anecdotally, there seems to be an increase in extreme weather events, which have not been without costs and other consequences. Unfortunately the tendency to slot statements – even factual ones – into emotional categories means that they can be ignored.

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