Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Advent of geoengineering may help lower temperature of debate over climate change

11.02.2015

Geoengineering, an emerging technology aimed at counteracting the effects of human-caused climate change, also has the potential to counteract political polarization over global warming, according to a new study.

Published Feb. 9 in the journal Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the study found that participants -- members of large, nationally representative samples in both the United States and England -- displayed more open-mindedness toward evidence of climate change, and more agreement on the significance of such evidence, after learning of geoengineering.

"The result casts doubt on the claim that the advent of geoengineering could lull the public into complacency," said Dan Kahan, professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School and a member of the research team that conducted the study.

"We found exactly the opposite: Members of the public who learned about geoengineering were more concerned and less polarized about global warming than those who were told of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a way to reduce climate change," he said.

As defined by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), "geoengineering" refers to deliberate, large-scale manipulations of Earth's environment in order to offset some of the harmful consequences of human-caused climate change. Potential examples include solar reflectors that would cool global temperatures by reflecting more sunlight away from the Earth and so-called "carbon scrubbers," which would remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Both the NAS and the Royal Society, the preeminent association of expert scientists in the United Kingdom, have issued reports calling for stepped-up research on geoengineering, which also was identified as a necessary measure for counteracting the impact of global warming in the latest assessment report of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In the study, researchers divided the 3,000 participants into groups, providing some with information on geoengineering and others with information on proposals to limit greenhouse gas emissions. They instructed the participants to read and evaluate actual study findings offering evidence human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels, was heating the Earth's temperature and creating serious environmental risks including coastal flooding and drought.

"The participants who learned about geoengineering were less polarized about the validity of the evidence than were the ones who got information on carbon-emission limits," said Kahan.

"In fact, the participants who read about carbon-emission limits were even more polarized than subjects in a control group, who read the information on the evidence of global warming without first learning about any potential policy responses," he said.

This result was consistent with previous research on a dynamic known as "cultural cognition," which describes the tendency of individuals to react dismissively to evidence of environmental risks when that evidence threatens their values or group identities.

"The information on geoengineering," said Kahan, "helped to offset bias by revealing to those study participants with a pro-technology outlook that acknowledging evidence of global warming does not necessarily imply the 'end of free markets' or the 'death of capitalism,' a theme that some climate-change policy advocates emphasize."

Kahan added that the significance of the research extended beyond the issue of whether the advent of geoengineering would stifle or promote public engagement with climate science.

"What's important is that people assess information about science based not only on its content but on its cultural meaning or significance," explained Kahan. "The study supports the conclusion that science communicators need to broadcast engaging signals along both the 'content' and 'meaning' channels if they want their message to get through."

###

The study was conducted by a team of researchers associated with the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School and the Center for Applied Social Research at the University of Oklahoma.

Citation: Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science DOI: 10.1177/0002716214559002

Debra Kroszner | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system
21.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Scientists shed light on carbon's descent into the deep Earth
19.07.2017 | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>