Climate Change: The Alarming Rise of Concern
Three times as many Americans are concerned about global warming than Americans who dismiss the issue.
That’s according to a twice-yearly public opinion polling by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The latest poll, conducted in September 2021, found that 33 percent of respondents were “alarmed” about global warming. These respondents were the most supportive and believed they would be affected by climate change.
Since 2008, the poll has been conducted. Respondents are divided into six segments based upon their level of concern over global warming.
In addition to the third who were “alarmed” respondents, the latest results showed that 25 percent said they were “concerned,” putting the majority of Americans in the two categories most supportive of climate action. Just 9 percent were “dismissive,” the category for respondents who rejected climate science and were least supportive of climate action. According to TK, the size of the cautious, disengaged, and dismissive categories has decreased since 2017, while the size of those who are alarmed has almost doubled.
“There is some degree of seasonality to public opinion on climate change,” said John Kotcher, an assistant professor at George Mason University involved in the research. “But some of these increases were so large in magnitude, it’s hard to imagine it’s purely just a seasonal effect.”
Kotcher stated that the rise in climate alarm in America could be attributed more politicians talking about climate change, increased climate activism, more severe heat waves and hurricanes, and more wildfire events.
“I think we have some evidence to suggest that the extreme weather events that occurred over the summer and in the run up to the September 2021 survey likely played a role in some of the increases that we observe,” Kotcher said. “And the fact that media attention to the issue has also been growing likely amplified some of those effects.”
Biking to Work Accelerates if Traffic Slows
A new study has found that reducing traffic speeds to 20 mph could increase the number of commuters who use bicycles to get to work.
Researchers at the University of Surrey, UK, looked at census data from 172,000 Surrey residents. This data showed where people lived, what they did for work, and how they got there. All participants lived 1.2 to 3.0 miles from their workplaces.
The researchers examined the shortest route between home and work for residents who said they biked or drove to work and looked at the factors along the route that might be affecting commuters’ transport decisions, like traffic speed, traffic density, hilliness and the presence of bike paths.
The main reason people avoid cycling to work was because of the speed of traffic, according to the researchers. The commuters who commuted to work at speeds exceeding 20 mph were less likely to choose to bike.
Researchers found that women were more affected by the effect.
“Women are underrepresented in cycling in the U.K., and actually often in Western nations,” said lead author Nick Grudgings, who was a doctoral student at the University of Surrey when the study was conducted. “Not only does this give you a route to increase cycling levels overall, it also gives you a route to increase it in a targeted demographic and address some of the socioeconomic inequalities there.”
Alex Hagen-Zanker, co-author, stated that increasing the number of commuters who choose to cycle instead of drive can reduce carbon emissions, reduce congestion, and improve health.
“We do know that there is a lot of potential gain,” Hagen-Zanker said. He said that the number and accessibility of bicycle routes could be increased sixfold by making them more bike-friendly with improvements like bike paths.
Plant-Based Diets’ Double Whammy: Fewer Cows, Fallow Land
According to a new study a shift in society to more sustainable diets could have a double effect on keeping climate-warming greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Researchers from Leiden University, the Netherlands, and other institutions around world examined the EAT-Lancet diet. This encourages healthy, sustainable food choices like vegetables and nuts, and not red meat. They found that widespread adoption in high-income countries of the diet would not only reduce methane-belching cattle, but also allow pastures used for unsustainable food production to return back to their natural state.
“If you were to allow that land to revert to the potential natural vegetation that was there before, you would essentially double the impact from the dietary change,” said senior author Paul Behrens, an assistant professor at Leiden University.
The study, published in Nature Food this week, highlighted that double carbon benefits could be realized even if high-income countries only adopt the EAT-Lancet diet. It also noted that these countries are more able to switch from a diet high on animal protein to a plant-focused one.
Behrens stated that food systems are an important sector for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He stated that emissions from food systems alone could cause the planet to experience 1.5 or 2 degrees of global warming.
“We’re not saying something that’s easy to happen. We discuss how this will require linking up of land policy, of environmental policy, of agricultural policy,” Behrens said. “We’re not saying that it’s going to happen. We’re just saying that these are the opportunities.”
Making Plastic Work for You
Adishree Kasliwal, a young girl from Jaipur, India, had a strong desire to learn more about the environment. She said that she felt she couldn’t go anywhere to learn these things.
As a teenager, she realized the need to create the resource she had lost in her childhood.
“I wanted a platform where young children could learn and express their opinions about the environment,” she said, “and they would have someone there who could guide them and who could tell them, ‘This is happening in the world and I want to hear what you have to say about it.’”
Kasliwal is now 16 and the founder of Team Earth. This organization educates children aged 8-16 about environmental issues such as climate change, plastic waste, and offers lessons, speakers, and hands-on participation in finding solutions.
The organization’s latest venture is RE/WRAP, an online store selling products made by Kasliwal and the Team Earth children from plastic waste. The children transform the plastic into colorful baskets or stools, and sell them for 350 to 1,450 rupees. That’s about $5 to $20. According to the RE/WRAP website funds are used to reduce plastic waste. Each item is claimed to save hundreds of plastic wrappers and several bottles from going to landfill.
“As soon as I step out of my house, all I see is plastic waste,” Kasliwal said. “I know there is something that can be done about it, but people here, they tell you ‘No,’ so I wanted to change that to make the world a better place, and make my own city a little bit cleaner.”
Kasliwal stated that the plastic was cleaned and donated to Team Earth. He also said that it is easy for children and adults to assemble it into new things.
“If children can do it, that usually motivates the others to see that this is a big problem,” she said. “If the children are telling us, that means it’s something that is important.”
Real-Time Emissions Data: Everybody’s Asking For It
Reno, Nevada, is now monitoring its greenhouse gas emissions in real-time, thanks to a local startup.
The data, which measures emissions from the city’s utilities, vehicles and other sources, will help the city toward its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
The up-to-the-minute data can help Reno find ways to be more efficient and reduce emissions, for example, charging electric vehicles during the day when there’s a large supply of solar power instead of at night, said Josh Griffin, co-founder of Ledger8760, the Reno-based startup monitoring the data.
“We gather dozens, hundreds and in some cases thousands of data sources and assemble it in a platform that our customers can see immediately what’s happening in as real time as possible,” he said.
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He said that this type of data can be more useful and informative than an annual emissions report and can help institutions keep track of their reductions goals. Reno residents can see their city’s emissions data on an online public portal supported by Ledger8760.
The startup (8760 in its name is the number of hours in a calendar year) has other clients that use its real time data services, such as governments and private companies.
Griffin stated that companies are going through a major transition. He said that they are increasing their monitoring of climate impact, which will allow customers to make better business decisions and lower their carbon footprint.
“We’re in a process where granular data is becoming incredibly important. And people are asking for it,” Griffin said. “Our customers are asking for it because their customers are asking them for it.”
Source: Inside Climate News