The Perception Gap on Climate Change

Climate Change seems to be suffering from a public relations problem.  Despite the fact that extreme weather events like heat waves, droughts, and floods are becoming more prevalent around the world, there is still a perception gap between the scientific community and the general public.

According to a study recently published in the journal, Environmental Research Letters, 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and that it is the result of human activities. The study, led by John Cook of the University of Queensland and founder of the website, examined nearly 12,000 peer-reviewed climate papers published in more than a thousand different journals between 1991 and 2011.  While there have been similar surveys in the past – with comparable results – this one was the broadest to date and re-affirmed the scientific consensus.

In contrast, pubic opinion is still uncertain. A poll taken by the Pew Research Center last autumn shows that while most Americans acknowledge the climate is changing, only 42% believe it is a human-caused problem. This disconnect is very troubling, because before a problem can be addressed, let alone solved, it needs to be acknowledged.