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Large gaps found in public understanding of climate change

GCBL staff  |  01/10/11 @ 10:30pm

Yale Project on Climate Change Communication released a new report titled "Americans' Knowledge of Climate Change." 

Overall, the report found that 63 percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening, but many do not understand why. In this assessment, only 8 percent of Americans have knowledge equivalent to an A or B, 40 percent would receive a C or D, and 52 percent would get an F. The study also found important gaps in knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change and the earth system. These misconceptions lead some people to doubt that global warming is happening or that human activities are a major contributor, to misunderstand the causes and therefore the solutions, and to be unaware of the risks.

 The report concludes that many Americans lack some of the knowledge needed for informed decision-making in a democratic society. For example, only:

        57% know that the greenhouse effect refers to gases in the atmosphere that trap heat;         50% of Americans understand that global warming is caused mostly by human activities;         45% understand that carbon dioxide traps heat from the Earth's surface;         25% have ever heard of coral bleaching or ocean acidification.  

View the entire report: http://environment.yale.edu/climate/publications/knowledge-of-climate-change

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