In an article in The Conservation, Bobby Duffy (King’s College London) writes that “people still don’t realise how bad the world’s climate and natural environment have become.  Misperceptions about climate change and the ecological crisis are all too clear from a new survey of Americans that tested their understanding of how far the problem has progressed in their lifetimes.”

Here are examples of what he writes:

“The people we interviewed guessed that 16% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from air travel, when it’s only around 2%. While aeroplanes emit a lot of CO₂ during each flight, air travel is still relatively infrequent, compared with, say, car journeys.  The rarity of flying explains why, despite aviation’s relatively limited contribution to emissions, one of the most effective actions a person can take is to fly less. A study by Swedish academics puts skipping one transatlantic flight as the third most effective action someone can take, only behind having one less child and living entirely car free. But only 10% of the US public pick out skipping the flight as one of the top three. Instead, 45% thought recycling as much as possible is a priority for reducing emissions – a much less effective action than giving up just one flight.”

“The people we spoke to also didn’t realise just how much wildlife has suffered over the past few decades, and how precipitous the decline in populations has been. Only a quarter of the US public correctly identify that the population sizes of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles in the world have declined by 60% since 1970.  Again, Democrats were slightly better than Republicans: 26% selected the correct, terrifying answer, compared with 16% of Republicans.”

You can read the whole article here.

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