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The Best Technology for Fighting Climate Change Isn’t a Technology

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Han de Groot writes in Scientific American:

The latest IPCC report  does not mince words about the state of our planet: we must act now to achieve global change at a scale that has “no documented historical precedent” in order to avoid the climate catastrophe that would result from a 2 degree C rise in average global temperature. Climate change already disproportionately affects the world’s most vulnerable people including poor rural communities that depend on the land for their livelihoods and coastal communities throughout the tropics. Indeed, we have already seen the stark asymmetry of suffering resulting from extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, floods, droughts, wildfires and more.

So far, advocates and politicians have tended to focus on reducing fossil fuel consumption through technology and/or policy, such as a steep carbon tax, as climate solutions. These proposals are, of course, essential to reducing manmade carbon emissions—71 percent of which are generated by just 100 fossil fuel companies. For this reason, fossil-fuel–related emissions reductions rightly figure heavily in the national climate commitments of the 181 nations that signed the global Paris Agreement.

Yet the international focus on fossil fuels has overshadowed the most powerful and cost-efficient carbon-capture technology the world has yet seen: forests. Recent scientific research confirms that forests and other “natural climate solutions” are absolutely essential in mitigating climate change, thanks to their carbon sequestering and storage capabilities. In fact, natural climate solutions can help us achieve 37 percent of our climate target, even though they currently receive only 2.5 percent of public climate financing.

Forests’ power to store carbon dioxide through the simple process of tree growth is staggering: one tree can store an average of about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in one yearRecent research shows intact forests are capable of storing the equivalent of the carbon dioxide emissions of entire countries such as Peru and Colombia.

For this reason, policy makers and business leaders must create and enforce ambitious policies and incentives to prevent deforestation, foster reforestation of degraded land, and support the sustainable management of standing forests in the fight against climate change. Protecting the world’s forests ensures they can continue to provide essential functions aside from climate stability, including producing oxygen, filtering water and supporting biodiversity. Not only do all the world’s people depend on forests to provide clean air, clean water, oxygen, and medicines, but 1.6 billion people rely on them directly for their livelihoods.

Unfortunately, we are fighting a crisis of deforestation, much of it driven by conversion to agricultural lands to produce a handful of resource-intensive commodities, despite zero-deforestation commitments from companies and governments. With increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, insufficient emissions reductions and continued high rates of deforestation, urgent action is needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Now is the time to increase investment in and attention to forest protection and restoration. In doing so, we will also address a number of other pressing global issues. For example, increasing tree cover can help address the problem of food security in many areas. Trees can enhance farm productivity and provide farmers with another source of revenue through the sale of fruits, nuts or timber—all while storing carbon dioxide. It is estimated that increased investment in the multi-strata agroforestry area could help sequester up to 9.28 gigatons of carbon dioxide, while saving a net $709.8 billion by 2050. In production landscapes where large-scale tree cover increases are difficult, agroforestry serves as an attractive compromise.

And in less-developed, rural areas—especially in the tropics—community-based sustainable forest management programs can provide pathways out of poverty. In the Petén region of Guatemala, for instance, community-managed forests have boasted a near-zero deforestation rate over the past 14 years, as compared to 12 percent in nearby protected areas and buffer zones. These communities have built low-impact, sustainable forest-based businesses that have bolstered the economy of the region enough to fund the creation of local schools and health services. Their success is especially poignant in a region otherwise besieged by deforestation; outside the community-managed zones, deforestation rates increase by 20x.

Finally, landscape restoration promises an  . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

16 December 2018 at 9:10 am

A devastating report details a ‘monumental’ assault on science at the Department of the Interior

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Michael Hiltzik writes in the LA Times:

Among the up-is-down, night-is-day practices of the Trump administration, one of the most dangerous and disturbing is its habit of turning America’s leading science agencies into hives of anti-science policymaking.

A new report lays out how this has produced a “monumental disaster” for science at the Department of the Interior. The report by the Union of Concerned Scientists details how Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his minions have in the space of two years turned Interior from a steward of public lands and natural resources into a front for the mining and oil and gas industries.

“The intent in rolling back the consideration of science in decision-making is always to progress the development of fossil fuel interests,” Jacob Carter of the union’s center for science and democracy and lead author of the report told me.

This results in cascading negative effects on the agency’s mission. “Under Zinke’s watch, we see a lot of federal lands being opened for sale, which means a lot of endangered species will no longer be protected, and which has damaging consequences for climate,” Carter says.

Just last week, Zinke appeared before the National Petroleum Council, a government advisory panel plump with fossil fuel executives. There he crowed about how President Trump had made the U.S. “the No. 1 producer of oil and gas in the world.” That should show where his heart is.

Interior isn’t the only science agency that has been turned into a billboard for political and ideological propaganda. The Environmental Protection Agency has been similarly hollowed out, and the Department of Health and Human Services has all but abandoned its duty to advance Americans’ access to affordable healthcare.

Interior has taken a multifaceted approach to wiping science out of its policymaking. Zinke and his political appointees have terminated research projects or canceled them before they start. Among the affected studies was one to evaluate the health effects of coal strip mining in Appalachia. Interior shut down a study into how to improve inspections of offshore oil and gas development, which had been requested by Interior itself after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Another case cited by the report concerns an environmental impact assessment of sulfide ore mining near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness, a hugely popular recreational area. The Obama administration put a two-year hold on the mining pending the study; the Trump administration shut down the study after only 15 months. By then, Interior already had renewed the mining leases that the Obama administration had put on hold. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2018 at 1:48 pm

The Vegetable Detective: Finding heavy metals in food

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Todd Oppenheimer has an interesting albeit unfinished story about an investigation that revealed the presence of heavy metals in some vegetables but has yet to track down the origin. Still, a fascinating report in Craftsmanship magazine:

Ernie Hubbard sees a very self-selecting group of patients and clients—“health fanatics,” he calls them—people who eat extremely well by current standards, exercise regularly, generally don’t smoke, do drugs, or drink to excess. In today’s world, however, especially in health-conscious Marin County, California, where Hubbard lives and works, these are the people increasingly showing up in doctors’ offices complaining of persistent but elusive problems: Chronic fatigue. Skin and hair issues. Arrhythmias and other neurological disorders. Foggy thinking. Gluten sensitivity and other digestive troubles. Sometimes even the possibility of Lyme Disease.

At one point, Hubbard got an opportunity to look more closely at what might be bothering some of these people. In 2010, a Cleveland company was developing a detoxification formula, called ZNatural. And its officers asked Hubbard and his colleagues at Preventive Medical Center of Marin, an alternative health clinic, if they would test the product.

As a molecular biologist with a background in biochemistry and genetics, Hubbard had been working with the clinic’s doctors to explore a range of tests and treatments not often found in traditional doctor’s offices. These include “bio-impedence” analyzers that measure cellular energy and “chelating” formulas like ZNatural, which aim to stimulate the body to release toxins. Chelating treatments have been controversial—some doctors consider them ineffective and, in some cases, even dangerous. After a bit of study, Hubbard and his colleagues concluded that ZNatural was far safer than its competitors, so they felt comfortable proceeding.

Before long, Hubbard had a pilot study underway, with 20 people happily peeing into cups. As he started gathering results on their samples—taken before, during, and after the detox regimens—he noticed an odd pattern: Several people registered high in thallium and cesium, two heavy metals generally not on anyone’s radar. “At first, I just thought, ‘Oh, another one of those. By the third or fourth, I started scratching my head.”

As the tests progressed, the detoxification regimens seemed to prove effective (and with no side-effects), but thallium kept showing up. Then, in July of 2014, he stumbled on a 2006 study out of the Czech Republic showing how the “cruciferous” family of vegetables behave as “hyperaccumulators” of thallium. Crucifers include many of our more intense green vegetables such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard and collard greens. These are also the vegetables often touted—and consumed—most heavily these days, supposedly for their outsized health benefits.

The most popular member of this family has been kale, promoted for its prodigious supplies of calcium, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin K, and various healthful phytochemicals and anti-oxidants. It’s even been described as “the queen of greens.” Not coincidentally, kale consumption has exploded. In 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, kale was harvested on 954 farms across the country. By 2012, that figure had more than doubled, to roughly 2,500 growers. In the last five years, the number of restaurants serving kale has reportedly risen by some 400 percent. People are juicing it, cooking it, eating kale salads, even making chips and other foodoid products from this hearty plant. “It suddenly hit me,” Hubbard said, “I thought, ‘Oh, my God!’”

In fairness to the realities of industrial life, one can expect to find pollutants anywhere you look these days, if you look hard enough. “When I touch my desk right now, I’m picking up chemicals,” says Bernadette Burden, press officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and its investigative little sister, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “A lot of these elements occur in nature. For example, we now know there is arsenic in apple juice. And in rice.”

True enough, but the question is whether there has been a recent spike in these toxins, especially newcomers to the scene like thallium. That’s a difficult question to answer right now, given how recently people started gorging on kale.

BEHIND DOOR NUMBER ONE: DIRTY PLANTS

As Hubbard poked around, he kept turning up more worrisome information. It turns out thallium was once a common ingredient in rat poison. It was also Saddam Hussein’s favorite poison to use on his enemies. (The metal works exquisitely for poison because it is tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless.) While none of Hubbard’s test subjects had been consuming doses even close to poisonous levels, the medical and scientific literature linked low-level doses to many of the complaints brought to his clinic: fatigue, heart arrhythmia, and—in more extreme cases—nausea, neurological problems, and hair loss.

To test this link, Hubbard started playing a little game. Whenever the clinic would send him someone with the kind of chronic problems associated with thallium, or any other complaints that were hard to pin down, Hubbard would scribble kale on a little note-card and turn it face-down on his desk. After a short work-up, he’d ask the patient to list his or her favorite vegetables. Over and over, people would mention the crucifers, especially kale. Hubbard would nod, say he expected as much, then show them the note-card on his desk to prove it.

One such client was Laura Fenamore, an outwardly healthy, 52-year-old vegetarian. Fenamore works out vigorously—“for two hours every day,” she told me. “I’m in ridiculously great shape.” She even runs a body image consulting business. In fact, when she first joined Hubbard’s study group, Fenamore didn’t feel particularly unwell, by her recollection. (She enrolled, she said, primarily because Hubbard was a friend and she was curious.) She admits, however, that at times she felt fatigued and foggy in the brain. But there was one other problem: She had always been admired for having beautiful hair, and now it was starting to fall out – “in clumps,” she says. Fenamore’s favorite vegetable? Kale, and cabbage even more so. How often did she eat it? “Pretty much every day. I joke with my clients that I’m the cabbage queen.”

When Fenamore’s urine samples came back, even Hubbard was surprised. Her thallium levels measured at .7 parts per million (ppm), which is 7 times higher than what’s considered the “threshold” limit in the workplace. That threshold is according to a 2009 CDC report, the agency’s most recent statement on toxic exposures. Her test was not a perfectly accurate reflection of her toxicity levels, however. During the time she was drawing her urine samples, she had been taking the ZNatural detox formula, infuses  urine with more of the problem element than would normally be the case. Still, her urine measures were so high, the exaggeration created by ZNatural very likely pales by comparison.

For some frame of reference on this point, the CDC offers this data point: In one of the more widely studied instances of thallium contamination, at a cement plant in Germany decades ago, nearby residents suffered “a slight increase in nonspecific symptoms” when their urine showed thallium levels as low as .02 ppm. Fenamore’s thallium count was 35 times higher than that. And one more: The thallium levels in Fenamore’s urine were 4,700 times higher than the CDC found in most Americans—at least when the agency last measured. That was in 2012, when the kale craze was still warming up.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Hubbard told me, regarding his reaction to Fenamore’s samples. He promptly put her on the clinic’s detox regimen, which tends to saturate the urine with any toxics as they are coaxed out of the body. Two months later, he tested Fenamore again and her numbers had more than doubled, to 1.8 ppm—nearly 12,000 times what the CDC found in the average population. Fenamore was also carrying around slight excesses of other metals, primarily cesium, cadmium, and arsenic—all toxins in their own right.

Fenamore was even more surprised by these numbers than Hubbard, given the mildness of her health problems. With reluctance, she cut way back on her cabbage consumption (which she now calls “getting off the sauce”), continued taking her detox potion, and watched her numbers slowly drop. “I do feel better now,” she says, “more even—hormonally, mentally, and emotionally. Energetically. And the brain fog cleared a lot.” Fenamore’s wife, Kathleen, also saw a change—a quick and marked difference in Fenamore’s alertness.

One might expect a person’s spouse to be biased, but her observations are credible for a few reasons. First, she didn’t completely buy Hubbard’s story, or his testing and detox procedures; and she does not like or eat cruciferous vegetables. Hubbard loved hearing that, because it handed him a convenient, mini-control on his study, suggesting that environmental factors may not have caused Fenamore’s toxicity. As coincidence would have it, two others in Hubbard’s study were twins, offering two people with the same genetic palate. “So I had a genetics control and an environmental control,” Hubbard says. “I had the kale haters and the kale lovers all getting their urine analyzed, and I think it’s hilarious.”

A strange subject to find amusing, maybe, but Hubbard is clearly having a ball with these inquiries. To follow these leads, Hubbard created a lab in his home (a houseboat). The first thing he wanted to confirm was exactly how much thallium was in the vegetables his clients were eating. He wanted to test everything he could, but time and resources wouldn’t permit it. So he focused on crucifer’s queen green: kale. After calling a few professional testing facilities, he came up with a set of protocols that turned the houseboat’s kitchen into a cross between a university laboratory and a movie set for a Frankenstein film. There were a few false starts. “I had an explosion that left glass and kale and molten slime all across this room,” he says.

Hubbard seems to thrive on obstacles. So he put his kitchen back together, and soon created some legitimate samples. Then he sent them to a well-established lab (Curtis & Tompkins, which was founded in 1878, in Berkeley, Calif.). When he got the samples back, he thought they weren’t analyzed in sufficient detail. So he looked for another lab. That led him to Doctors Data, a federally licensed laboratory near Chicago that does specialized testing, offering views of how elements function in the body on an intra-cellular level. By September of 2014, Hubbard was getting reports back showing heavy metals in virtually every kale sample he sent in. There were also traces of nickel, lead, cadmium, cesium, aluminum, and arsenic. Some of these metals are famously bad actors, or at least suspicious ones. For a touch of exploration, Hubbard also crunched a few jars of baby food. Lo and behold, they too contained heavy metals.

DOOR NUMBER TWO: COAL

One day, Hubbard called Dr. David Quig, the lead scientist at Doctors Data, to better understand his lab results. Their conversation set off even more alarm bells. When Hubbard pointed out the prevalence of thallium in his subjects’ tests, Quig wasn’t terribly surprised. He said he, too, was seeing thallium in more and more tests from various clients. “It’s not high, it’s just frequent,” Quig told me, when I called him. “We never used to see thallium at all. Now, everybody who touches a report, it jumps out at them.”

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Written by LeisureGuy

8 December 2018 at 12:11 pm

Facing facts: What won’t happen wrt climate change, and our only way out

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But unfortunately the argument is rational. We won’t do it. Big organizations know how to tap the irrational to fight the rational, and that’s what they’re doing. But this makes sense.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 December 2018 at 1:15 pm

Deadly heat, spreading diseases, overwhelmed hospitals: A new study warns that climate change is already posing health risks worldwide.

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Somini Sengupta and Kendra Pierre-Louis report in the NY Times:

Crop yields are declining. Tropical diseases like dengue fever are showing up in unfamiliar places, including in the United States. Tens of millions of people are exposed to extreme heat.

These are the stark findings of a wide-ranging scientific report that lays out the growing risks of climate change for human health and predicts that cascading hazards could soon face millions more people in rich and poor countries around the world.

The report, published Wednesday in the public health journal The Lancet, incorporates the work of 24 academic institutions and United Nations agencies and follows a major climate assessment issued last week by the United States government. The two studies represent the most serious warnings to date that climate change is posing a series of interconnected health risks for the global population.

“We don’t see these health impacts individually,” said Kristie L. Ebi, a professor of global health at the University of Washington and one of the authors of the Lancet study. “We see them jointly. We see them coming at communities all at the same time.”

Among the biggest threats humans face in a warming climate is heat stress, which not only kills people directly but can also lead to kidney and cardiovascular disease, the report noted. Higher temperatures can also diminish people’s ability to work, particularly in agriculture, leading to tens of billions of hours of lost labor capacity each year.

Most worrying, according to the authors, is the compounding effect of extreme weather events that are exacerbated by climate change. Heat waves, floods and storms can batter the very public health systems that are meant to help people, the report says. A failure to rein in emissions, it warns, could lead to disasters that “disrupt core public health infrastructure and overwhelm health services.”

The American report, called the National Climate Assessment, says that extreme rainfall could overwhelm the nation’s ailing water and sewer systems, contributing to shortages of drinkable water and increasing exposure to gastrointestinal disease. In some parts of the country, like Florida and Texas, higher temperatures will be a boon to a type of mosquito that transmits the viruses that cause dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Echoing these warnings on Wednesday, the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, urged world leaders to swiftly curb greenhouse gas emissions as they had promised under the Paris climate accord three years ago. Nine out of 10 people breathe unsafe air, according to the World Health Organization, Mr. Guterres said. “Meeting the Paris Agreement commitments could save more than a million lives a year,” he said.

Cutting emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants and diesel-burning trucks would also result in enormous savings to public health systems, the Lancet authors said. “Doing that now would be good for us, it would be good for our livelihoods and would be good for the planet,” Dr. Ebi said.

But as the world continues to warm, the study warned of a number of potential domino effects.

In 2017, 157 million more people were exposed to heat-related health risks than in 2000, the report said. And that was before the scorching summer of 2018.

In England and Wales, for instance, over a 15-day period of exceptionally high temperatures this summer, there were 700 “excess deaths” compared to a comparable period in previous years, said Nick Watts, the report’s lead author.

Some of the most vulnerable people are in relatively prosperous countries in Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region, particularly because these places have large populations of older people living in cities. In both regions, more than 40 percent of people over the age of 65 were found to be at risk.

In the United States, the National Climate Assessment found that some of the largest increases in heat-related mortality in future years would occur in the Northeast. By midcentury, there could be 50 to 100 excess deaths per one million people due to heat in that region, the report said. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2018 at 4:57 pm

Eco-fashion’s Animal Rights Delusion

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Alden Wicker writes in Craftsmanship:

Editor’s Note: In our articles we normally avoid using hyperlinks, in order to give you an undistracted journey. (For any related sources of importance, we put links into a Resources section, or sidebar, at the bottom of the piece.) With this story, however, we are making an exception. Because the author, Alden Wicker, has written so extensively about the eco-fashion world, and because this story draws on so many Internet sources, it seemed more efficient to build links into her story. We hope you will agree.

For most women like me, when a fine, silk blouse catches our eye in a clothing store, we don’t think much about the worms that made the silk. If you do, here’s the story you will typically find: A few days after silkworms disappear inside their cocoons, right about the time they finish spinning, the little pods are collected and submerged in boiling water. To make a pound of raw silk, up to 5,000 worms must die.

To People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the nation’s leading animal-rights group, that’s a pretty destructive process for the cause of glamour. This is why PETA encourages consumers to buy “cruelty-free” silk alternatives like polyester and viscose (popularly known as rayon). Consumers have hardly needed PETA’s prodding. In a single decade, consumption of rayon doubled, rising to 5.2 million tons in 2015; meanwhile, the silk industry had declined to 202,000 metric tonnes by 2015, constituting less than 0.2 percent of the global textile market. Another victory for animal rights and the fight for more socially conscious consumerism, right?

Maybe—or maybe not. As with so many eco-conscious consumer choices, the issues involved in silk production are both elusive and multi-layered. If we’re going to call ourselves conscious consumers, therefore, we have to calculate all aspects of the production process, and its consequences.

In the case of silk, let’s first look at the other way to make silk, which doesn’t kill the worms. For this kind of silk, called Peace or Ahimsa Silk, the pupa is allowed to grow into a moth, tear a hole in the cocoon, and crawl out into the light. But there’s a catch. Because that hole cuts what used to be a continuous strand of thread, the process yields a fabric with a nubbier, less shimmering texture, much like raw silk. It’s beautiful in its own way, but also double the cost. That can drive the retail price of a wedding dress, for example, up by more than $1,000.

To a bride who is committed to having a wedding dress that allowed moths to be “free and happy,” that price may feel worthwhile—as long as she can afford it. But she might want to look again at the Peace worm’s glorious beginnings. It turns out that if silkworms are allowed to emerge as moths, they live short and very difficult lives. Having been domesticated for thousands of years, bombyx mori are unable to fly, and cannot even eat. The males spend their one glorious day of moth-dom crawling across the ground to find and couple with a nearby female before dying. The females lay eggs over the next few days and then dies as well. In any case, PETA opposes the use of Peace Silk simply because there is no certification process to ensure the worms weren’t mistreated.

Now, let’s look back at those worms that were put to death in boiling water.

Traditional southern Chinese silks are handmade in a closed-loop ecosystem, in which . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2018 at 2:48 pm

Katharine Hayhoe is successfully convincing doubtful evangelicals about climate change

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Dana Nuccitelli has an interesting report in the Guardian:

Approximately one-quarter of Americans identify as evangelical Christians, and that group also tends to be more resistant to the reality of human-caused global warming. As a new paper by Brian Webb and Doug Hayhoe notes:

a 2008 study found that just 44% of evangelicals believed global warming to be caused mostly by human activities, compared to 64% of nonevangelicals (Smith and Leiserowitz, 2013) while, a 2011 survey found that only 27% of white evangelicals believed there to be a scientific consensus on climate change, compared to 40% of the American public (Public Religion Research Institute, 2011).

These findings appear to stem from two primary factors. First, evangelicals tend to be socially and politically conservative, and climate change is among the many issues that have become politically polarized in America. Second, there is sometimes a perceived conflict between science and religion, as Christians distrust what they perceive as scientists’ “moral agenda” on issues like evolution, stem cell research, and climate change. As Webb and Hayhoe describe it:

theological conservatism, scientific skepticism, political affiliation, and sociocultural influences have reinforced one another to instill climate skepticism into the evangelical tribe mentality, thus creating a formidable barrier to climate education efforts.

Evangelical climate leaders

There are also evangelicals who have tried to convince their peer group about the reality of human-caused climate change and our moral obligation to address it. These include the Evangelical Environmental Network, the Evangelical Climate Initiative, the Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, and evangelical climate scientists like Sir John Houghton and Doug Hayhoe’s daughter Katharine Hayhoe (one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people). However, a majority of evangelicals continue to reject the reality of human-caused climate change, and there hasn’t been research quantifying the effectiveness of these evangelical climate leadership efforts.

Brian Webb and Doug Hayhoe’s study did just that by testing the effectiveness of a climate lecture delivered by Katharine Hayhoe to undergraduate students at the predominantly evangelical Houghton College in New York. Approximately half of the participants self-identified as conservatives and Republicans, 28% as liberals and Democrats, and the remainder as neither liberal nor conservative. 63% of the participants identified as evangelicals (most of the rest were of other Christian denominations).

Katharine Hayhoe’s lecture presented climate science information through the lens of an evangelical tradition. In addition to presenting scientific evidence, it included an introduction about the difference between faith and science (faith is based on things that are spiritually discerned, whereas science is based on observation). About six minutes of the 33- to 53-minute lectures were devoted to theology-based ethics.

Hayhoe lecture’s effectiveness

The participants filled out a survey before and after the lecture, detailing their acceptance that global warming is happening, its cause, whether there’s a scientific consensus, how high of a priority they consider it, how worried they are about it, and how much it will harm various groups. The results showed an increase in pro-climate beliefs for every single question after listening to Katharine Hayhoe’s lecture.

Acceptance that global warming is happening increased for 48% of participants, and that humans are causing it for 39%. Awareness of the expert scientific consensus increased among 27% of participants. 52% were more worried about climate change after watching the lecture, and 67% increased their responses about how much harm climate change will do. 55% of participants viewed addressing climate change a higher priority after attending Katharine Hayhoe’s lecture. For most of the remaining participants, there was no change in responses to these questions.

By testing three different lecture approaches, Webb and Hayhoe also concluded that the lecture was equally effective when presented in person or as a recorded video, and that adding material about common climate misconceptions didn’t make the lecture any more effective.

Facts matter – especially when they come from trusted sources

There’s been some debate among social scientists about how much facts matter in today’s politically polarized society. Some have warned about the “smart idiots” effect, in which people who are more knowledgeable are often less persuadable, essentially because they have more tools with which to reject information they find inconvenient. However, other research has shown that climate-specific knowledge does increase peoples’ acceptance of human-caused global warming. The question then becomes how to arm people with that climate-specific knowledge.

One thing most social scientists agree on is that people are more open to information when it comes from “trusted sources” – people with whom they have shared values. For evangelicals, Katharine Hayhoe is a perfect example, and this study confirms that her lectures are effective at informing evangelical college students about climate change. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2018 at 11:14 am

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