How Can We Set Aside Biases to Perception of Climate Change?
Guest post by Emily Folk
Despite scientific evidence, a vast portion of the population still believes global climate change isn’t taking place, or it isn’t a human-made phenomenon. The publication of new research hasn’t helped the situation — researchers found that more information leads the public to sift through the data to find what best suits their already held biases. Although the case looks bleak, the removal of politics from science, more thorough media coverage and presenting a clear message can help the general public see the facts.
Presenting a clear message
A lot of information is available on global climate change, and as a result, it can be challenging to deliver a clear, concise message of why the issue is essential. Instead of focusing on melting icecaps and the loss of polar bear habitats, scientists can work to create a clear picture of how changes in our climate will negatively impact day-to-day life. As more people begin to realize rising earth temperatures will directly affect their well-being and the well-being of future generations, they may start to shift their mindset.
Rising temperatures aside, the solutions proposed to mitigate global climate change are beneficial on many levels. The implementation of renewable energy resources is more sustainable than fossil fuels, leads to better air quality and helps preserve the water supply. Localized renewable energy removes dependence on the energy grid and can help return power more quickly following natural disasters.
The Amish population is an excellent example of a community not entirely dependent on grid-supplied electricity. Many Amish people use solar panels or other means of independently supplied electricity to adhere to their personal values and maintain their way of life. Regardless of your personal beliefs, this sustainable practice can help your family save money and ensure a cleaner environment for future generations.
Remove politics from science
Global climate change is more politicized now than ever. Liberals tend to view climate change as an important issue while conservatives tend to believe it isn’t taking place at all. This is despite the fact nearly 95 percent of scientists believe global climate change is occurring and is a human-made issue. Political figures can help effect change by focusing specifically on the facts and by using the clear message developed by researchers and scientists.
Conservative representatives can sway their followers by focusing on the benefits of sustainable practices which in turn help mitigate global climate change. Renewable energy construction creates jobs in rural locations. Eco-friendly home improvements such as geothermal energy and solar panels can save money on energy bills over time. The removal or closure of fossil fuel facilities can reduce instances of cancer and other diseases from exposure.
Diligent media coverage
The internet changed the way news is presented to and consumed by the general public. More individuals are expressing their opinions and personal biases, which in turn, are influencing others. Over time, global climate change was presented as an arguable issue by media outlets with equal attention paid to both sides of the issue, rather than focusing specifically on the scientific facts. This created the belief that global climate change is a debatable issue, rather than a fact.
If media outlets begin to focus more on scientific evidence, new research showing the effects of global climate change and the impacts from environmental changes which already took place, the public will soon begin to shift their mindset. Decades of research prove global climate change is a fact and isn’t going unless significant changes are made. Propagating a culture of debate won’t help to effect this change anytime soon.
Biases toward climate change can be removed if the issue is presented objectively. Researchers, scientists, politicians and media outlets have the responsibility to make these changes to ensure the public has the proper tools to understand this issue.
Emily is a conservation and sustainability journalist and the editor of Conservation Folks