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Study finds 40% of world’s population hasn’t heard of climate change

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A new study that examined the public understanding of climate change found that 40 percent of the global adult population were completely unaware of the crisis – a figure that rose to nearly two-thirds of grown-ups in developing countries.

Using data from the largest cross-sectional survey of climate change perceptions ever conducted, researchers report the first global assessment of factors underlying climate change awareness and risk perception. They say results indicate that to be most effective, climate-related messages must be tailored to public awareness and perceptions specific to each nation.

Co-author Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC), says, “Overall, we find that about 40 percent of adults worldwide have never heard of climate change. This rises to more than 65 percent in some developing countries, like Egypt, Bangladesh and India. There is still a critical need for basic climate literacy in many countries.”

Ezra Markowitz at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with Tien Ming Lee of Columbia University, Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale and others at Utah State University, say that worldwide, education level is the single strongest predictor of climate change awareness and that understanding the human causes of climate change is the strongest predictor of risk perception, “particularly in Latin America and Europe, whereas perception of local temperature change is the strongest predictor in many African and Asian countries,” they write.

The researchers analyzed data from nationally representative samples of 119 countries collected for the Gallup World Poll conducted in 2007 and 2008.

Markowitz, an assistant professor in the environmental conservation department at UMass Amherst, says, “It was interesting to uncover these differences across countries, but in some ways one of the most insightful outcomes is the reminder that what motivates one person to engage with this issue is not necessarily the same as what motivates the next person.”

He adds, “Although this is not a revolutionary insight, it is important for communicators and others to keep in mind. Advocates would love a one-size-fits-all approach to climate communication because it would be easier and cheaper, but it is not the most effective strategy; people are too diverse in what connects them to this issue. For communicators this is an important message.”

The huge data set included several questions about awareness of climate change and perceptions of how serious a threat it is to respondents and their families. The researchers analyzed responses in relation to such variables as gender, age, religion, education, geographical location, finances, well-being, beliefs about climate change, civic engagement, media habits and satisfaction with local air and water quality.

They divided respondents into those “aware” or “unaware” of climate change and call the contrast between developed and developing countries “striking.” In North America, Europe and Japan, more than 90 percent of the public is aware of climate change, but in many developing countries relatively few are aware of the issue, though many do report having observed changes in local weather patterns.

Markowitz points out that the team used statistical techniques not usually applied to social science research to allow them to conduct a powerful two-level analysis that yielded the most predictive variables by country. Using non-metric multidimensional scaling plus a conditional inference classification tree model allowed them to see the diversity of predictors by country, he adds, and “missing data is less of a problem using this approach. You get to keep more variables for more countries in the analysis, providing a more complete picture of what’s going on.”

“This allowed us to see, for example, that the most important predictors in China are not the same as in the United States,” Markowitz says. Among the factors most important for predicting Americans’ awareness of climate change was civic engagement, more access to media and higher education, while in China the strongest predictors were education, urban rather than rural residence and household income, the team reports.

For risk perception, among the strongest predictors in the U.S. were beliefs about human influence on the climate, perception of whether local temperatures have changed and attitudes to government involvement in environmental preservation. In China, among the strongest predictors of concern was dissatisfaction with local air quality.

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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