Public Perceptions of the Health Consequences of Global Warming

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A new report, Public Perceptions of the Health Consequences of Global Warming, which analyzes results from our national survey conducted in October 2014, finds that Americans are generally unaware of the potential health consequences of global warming. Key findings include:

  • Few Americans have thought much about the health consequences of global warming. Asked how often, if ever, before taking this survey they had thought about how global warming might affect people’s health, seven in 10 said they had given the issue little or no thought. Only one in 10 said they had given the issue a “great deal” of thought and only about two in 10 (22%) said they had thought about it a “moderate amount.”
  • Few Americans are aware of any current health consequences of global warming. When asked “In your view, what health problems related to global warming are Americans experiencing, if any?” a majority either didn’t answer the question (43%) – which likely indicates they didn’t have an answer – or answered that they “don’t know” (14%).  Only one in four (27%) named at least one health problem related to global warming, and 10% answered, incorrectly, that there are no health problems associated with global warming.
  • Moreover, with the exception of respiratory problems including asthma and other lung diseases (14%) and illness, injury, and death caused by extreme weather (6%), fewer than 5% of Americans identified any of the other health consequences of global warming.
  • When asked “Do you think some groups or types of Americans are more likely than other Americans to experience health problems related to global warming?” only one in three Americans (32%) answered, correctly, that some groups of Americans are more likely than others to have their health harmed by global warming; most survey participants are either “not sure” (45%) or said no group is at higher risk (23%).
  • Only one in three Americans (31%) thinks global warming is currently harming the health of people in the U.S. a “great deal” or a “moderate amount,” while one in six thinks their own health (17%) or the health of others in their household (17%) is being harmed to that degree.
  • Four in ten Americans (39%) think global warming will harm the health of people in the U.S. a “moderate amount” or “great deal” over the next five to 10 years, while nearly three in ten think their own health (27%) or the health of others in their household (28%) will be harmed over this time period.
  • When asked if specific health problems will become more or less common over the next 10 years in their community due to global warming, more than one third of Americans think the following conditions will become more common: air pollution, including smog (38%); pollen-related allergies (38%); asthma/other lung diseases (37%); heat stroke (36%); and bodily harm from severe storms and/or hurricanes (34%).
  • Few Americans are aware of the current or projected future health impacts of global warming worldwide. A plurality of Americans say they are not sure how many people worldwide are currently injured, made ill, or die each year – or will each year 50 years from now – as a result of global warming. Many others (21% to 33%) think no people will suffer health consequences from global warming, either now or in the future.
  • By contrast, only 12 to 15 percent of Americans think that thousands or millions of people worldwide currently die or are sickened or injured due to global warming, and only 25 to 28 percent think that thousands or millions will die, be injured or made ill each year 50 years from now due to global warming.
  • When asked whether certain government agencies or branches should do more or less to protect people from global warming-related health problems, nearly half of Americans think the following should do more: federal agencies such as the CDC, NIH, or FEMA (47%); the U.S. Congress (46%); and their state government (44%)

While more Americans support rather than oppose funding increases for government agencies to protect the public from health problems related to global warming, the largest group of Americans – approximately three in ten – has no opinion on this matter.

When asked whether they trust or distrust various sources of information about health problems related to global warming, Americans are most likely to say they trust: their primary-care doctor (49% trust him or her “strongly” or “moderately”); family/friends (41%); and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (41%). By contrast, Americans are least likely to trust religious leaders and U.S. military leaders on this subject.

These findings come from a nationally-representative survey – Climate Change in the American Mind – conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Interview dates: October 17-28, 2014. Interviews: 1,275 Adults (18+).
Total average margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The 11th Hour Project, the Grantham Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the V.K. Rasmussen Foundation, and the National Science Foundation funded the research.

Red states more likely to be burned by climate change

Read the full story in Grist.

Yuma, Colo., a farming town of 3,500 people near the Kansas border, celebrated last month as homegrown Republican Cory Gardner was elected to the U.S. Senate. Gardner, a high school football player and the son of a farm equipment dealer, defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall to help the GOP gain control of the Senate in the second-most expensive congressional race of all time

Climate models project that Gardner’s current House district — along with much of the food-producing Great Plains and Corn Belt — will experience the country’s most drastic temperature and precipitation changes in the coming years. Gardner’s home turf, one of the 10 largest congressional districts in terms of agricultural area, will likely face a temperature increase of more than 8 degrees F and a more than 9 percent drop-off in precipitation by 2100 — among the most extreme projections for the country.

That’s according to analysis from a forthcoming peer-reviewed study in the journal Ecosphere by Brady Allred of the University of Montana and colleagues. Allred’s study looked at political representation, agricultural, and natural-resources land cover, and projected climate disruptions across the nation’s 435 U.S. House districts. The researchers discovered that the districts with the most agriculture and natural resources are predominantly represented by Republicans who, like Gardner, generally deny the science of global warming. Those districts also likely face the most severe climate changes.

Energy Savings from Information and Communications Technologies in Personal Travel

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This report surveys transportation-sector strategies that use information and communications technologies (ICT) and have the potential to save energy. These include car and bike sharing, real-time transit information, in-vehicle ICT applications, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, and workplace-based transportation demand management (TDM) programs. For each of these strategies, we estimate energy savings in the near term (2015) and the potential for longer-term savings once the applications have been fully phased in. Not including interactive effects among the measures, we project total energy savings of approximately 13% by 2030 from the six surveyed strategies.

Study Shows That 270,000 Tons Of Plastic Float In The Ocean

Read the full story in the Huffington Post.

A new study estimates nearly 270,000 tons of plastic is floating in the world’s oceans. That’s enough to fill more than 38,500 garbage trucks.

The plastic is broken up into more than 5 trillion pieces, said the study published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Society of Toxicology Announces 2015 Best Toxicological Paper Award

Read the full story from the Society of Toxicology.

Scientists from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, and Bruce Allen Consulting are being honored for publishing the best paper in Toxicological Sciences during the 12 months preceding the 2015 award’s selection. The 2015 SOT Board of Publications Award for the Best Paper in Toxicological Sciences is being bestowed by the Society of Toxicology (SOT) — the world’s largest and preeminent association representing the field of toxicology — on a paper published in the July 2013 issue (Volume 134, No. 1) of the journal, titled “Temporal Concordance Between Apical and Transcriptional Points of Departure for Chemical Risk Assessment.” (Thomas RS, Wesselkamper SC, Wang NCY, Zhao QJ, Petersen DD, Lambert JC, Cote I, Yang L, Healy E, Black MB, Clewell HJ, Allen BC, Andersen ME. Toxicol Sci. 2013 Jul; 134(1): 180–194. doi:10.1093/toxsci/kft094)

Adapting to climate change will cost much more than we thought

Read the full story in Grist.

Poor countries will need at least twice as much money as we thought in order to successfully adapt to climate change — and possibly five times as much by mid-century. That’s according to a new, more comprehensive assessment by the U.N. Environment Program. The findings shake things up quite a bit.

Evolutionary Tipping Points in the Capacity to Adapt to Environmental Change

Evolutionary Tipping Points in the Capacity to Adapt to Environmental Change
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( ) / by Carlos A. Botero, et al.

Environmental variation is becoming more frequent and unpredictable as a consequence of climate change, yet we currently lack the tools to evaluate the extent to which organisms may adapt to this phenomenon. Here we develop a model that explores these issues and use it to study how changes in the timescale and predictability of environmental variation may ultimately affect population viability. Our model indicates that, although populations can often cope with fairly large changes in these environmental parameters, on occasion they will collapse abruptly and go extinct. We characterize the conditions under which these evolutionary tipping points occur and discuss how vulnerability to such cryptic threats may depend on the genetic architecture and life history of the organisms involved.