This sample essay explores the public opinions surrounding climate change. This essay examines the social trends across the world to fully survey global opinion. This science paper was written as a sample for the Ultius blog at an undergraduate level.
What the World Thinks About Climate Change
Public opinion about the issue of climate change, and the worry associated with it is related to many cultural factors. Namely, how close a nation is to the ocean and what the likelihood of the impact of ocean raising will have on their nation. Also, education plays a key role in embracing how valid the threat is. Around the world public opinion varies greatly, and worry appears to grow as the violence and cost of climate change increases.
Making Sense of the Immensity of Change
Worry can serve very different purposes based on how it is applied to reality. Credible worry based on real challenges can galvanize people to change, while neurotic worry can lead to the opposite- a repression and an ignoring of the cause of worry. In the case of climate change, very few people have no worry, and the majority of vulnerable nations are working to address the problem. The most vulnerable nations are islands, and those with large expanses of coastline, but as weather changes increase no one appears to be safe from the changes.
The Pew Research Center did a comprehensive global survey to analyze how different demographics around the world feel about climate change. While awareness for the issue really began ramping up in the early 21st century due to Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, nothing has been more convincing than the last decades’ extreme rise in violent weather. Heatwaves, typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, and all types of extreme weather has risen significantly over the past ten years, forcing the awareness of the immediacy of climate change. As such, many people now view climate change with increasing worry of threat to their present, and not just future generations.
As a result of increasing extreme weather due to climate change even scientists have begun to increasingly worry. The projections made concerning climate change in the 90s have proven to be wild underestimations, as scientists are reeling at the vulnerability of the climate system, and humanity’s vulnerability in the biosphere. However, the general dullness of much of the population is easily distracted into ignoring these credible fears with more advanced technological toys. As Dr. Erich Markus Fischer of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology emphasizes, “A lot of us and our colleagues were surprised by how high these numbers are already now in the present day climate” (Mathiesen). This sentiment is echoed all over the world in the scientific community.
However, it tends to be the poorest regions which are most worried about climate change, perhaps because they have the most to lose.
Unsurprisingly, research has found that the bigger a polluter and contributor to greenhouse gas build up a nation is the less worried they are about climate change. This represents the psychological practice of repression which allows for such delusional behavior as driving an SUV at a time when such emissions threaten the sustainability of life on the planet for all life forms. As the Pew Research Center reports,
Among the nations we surveyed, the U.S. has the highest carbon emissions per capita, but it is among the least concerned about climate change and its potential impact. Others in this category are Australia, Canada and Russia. Publics in Africa, Latin America and Asia, many of which have very low emissions per capita, are frequently the most concerned about the negative effects of climate change. (Wike)
Taking after their global competitors, complete disregard for global climate work by China and Russia has truly imbalanced the global scale. This presents major issues for dealing with the very real threat of climate change, and is heightening political tensions as the U.S. continues to try to dictate terms while being the biggest polluter.
When looking at why and how people are worried about climate change, those who are not living in pure denial are concerned most about their own self-interest and the need to survive. This manifests as worry about drought that will threaten food production. Food supplies are threatened through:
- Intense storms
- Sea level raising
Paying the Climate Cost
This is being seen as increasing pressure from every area as extreme weather devastates communities, increasing property damage and the threat to survival. The actual cost in property damage is no longer able to be ignored:
Global mean surface temperatures have gone up by 0.6 degrees Celsius since 1951. The American Academy of Actuaries report put the total number of global natural loss events in 2014 at 980 with overall losses estimated at $110 billion. They claimed 7,700 lives. In 2014, from May 18-23, severe storms did $2.9 billion damage; severe winter damage, $1.7 billion from Jan. 5-8; and severe warmer weather damage from June 3-5, $1.3 billion. (Diuguid)
This is something that developing nations simply cannot afford, and many are calling for developed nations to do more to mitigate the extreme weather devastating them as shown in the chart below. This is a common cry due to the fact that domineering tactics by world superpowers directly affect the quality of life and freedoms of the developing nations they interact with. However, superpowers are traditionally unresponsive to the needs of their developing global community members.
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Those who understand how real the problem of climate change is may be doing enough worrying for all the people who live in denial of the issue, but the time is rapidly approaching that to deny the reality of climate change is no longer an option. Raising planetary temperature is happening and the effects of it are devastating to global security. To make real change in support of sustainable living widespread energy reform is needed which will impact the lives of every person. This may mean a limitation of freedoms for some, but it is essential for the survival of the many (some argue socialism could solve climate change).
Diuguid, Lewis. “Climate change being measured in property damage, loss of life and costs in billions of dollars.” The Kansas City Star, 16 Apr. 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/lewis-diuguid/article18690846.html
Mathiesen, Karl. “Extreme weather already on increase due to climate change, study finds.” The Guardian, 27 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/27/extreme-weather-already-on-increase-due-to-climate-change-study-finds
Wike, Richard. “What the world thinks about climate change in 7 charts.” Pew Research Center, 18 Apr. 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/18/what-the-world-thinks-about-climate-change-in-7-charts/