What can prevent global warming?
Shut off a light, avert global warming—seem too simple? Yet Vanderbilt’s Climate Change Research Network (CCRN) says revised individual behavior can do just that.
The interdisciplinary network integrates faculty and student researchers in natural sciences, social and behavioral sciences, engineering, and law and policy with the goal of uncovering a grass-roots solution to climate change. Members are conducting theoretical and applied research on one of the most important and most widely overlooked sources of greenhouse gases: individual and household behavior.
The 20-plus member network includes, among others, Brooke Ackerly, associate professor, political science; Florence N. Faucher-King, associate professor, European studies and political science; Ford Ebner, professor, psychology; Jonathan Gilligan, senior lecturer, earth and environmental sciences, who also serves as CCRN associate director for research; and Michael Vandenbergh, professor of law and CCRN director. These group members recently discussed climate change, the media, and the role individuals play in averting this crisis.
What is the biggest obstacle to stopping global warming?
VANDENBERGH: Two things. First is the belief that there is uncertainty about some aspects of the science, so we should not act. The second is the belief that acting requires increasing the role of government in ways that are worse than the harms of climate change.
GILLIGAN: Erosion of trust. People can’t achieve political consensus on what to do because they don’t trust those who disagree with them. They dig in their heels, demonize opponents and produce gridlock.
EBNER: If people accepted the premise of global warming, they would change their everyday lives to produce a sustainable level of resource use. More importantly, they wouldn’t vote for anyone who didn’t espouse environmental sustainability as a high priority national goal.
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What are the risks of global warming?
Many and varied. For instance, some people even say that global warming could ironically cause a new ice age: they say that a warming trend could melt the polar ice caps, causing sea levels to rise a great deal; this is turn raises the albedo of the Earth--albedo meaning how much sunlight (and, in turn, heat) is reflected back from the surface, because water is a great deal more reflective than grass or even sand--meaning that things will get REALLY cold before the ice caps have a chance to reform.
That's one example out of many, and nearly all of them are bad. I have no interest in ge…