Living in Berkeley has skewed my perception on the views of society towards climate change. It is easy to get excited about making significant change when a lot of the focus is around developing low carbon solutions.
Is climate change too big of an issue for people to grasp? In a recent report from Yale it shows that people’s perceptions on the importance of climate change have shifted over the past year towards being less concerned. In a 2009 TED talk, James Balog, a photographer, provides a time-lapse view of receding glaciers from around the world. Scientists aren’t arguing about climate change and these images can help to shift perceptions.
At the same time that perception is being tangled, leading individuals in our society are shifting some of their efforts to combat climate change. Bill Gates recently spoke at the 2010 TED conference about society’s need to invest in R&D for clean energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.
It is unlikely that society will reduce consumption in the next 40 years, let alone make a reduction of 80%. Behavioral change is needed, but development of energy efficient technologies and new energy technologies is a necessity to reach these goals. Below is a diagram for those carbon non-believers that highlights that investing to mitigate climate change has the best outcome, regardless of the impacts of climate change.
Is counterfactual thinking, like Haas professor Laura Kray’s paper, a way to change public perception on climate change? What if you didn’t act on climate change and it was real problem? I’d prefer to not know the answer and thus I’m driven to find low carbon solutions.