“The United States is in a sense climate illiterate still,” Hans Schellnhuber, the director of Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said earlier this week.
He wasn’t just comparing the US to the EU, however. Even developing nations seem to know more about the issue and the potential results of inaction.
Schellnhuber said: “if you look at global polls about what the public knows about climate change, even in Brazil, China you have more people who know the problem, who think that deep cuts in emissions are needed.”
Scientists continue to find that climate change effects are happening quicker and with more severe consequences than expected, yet the US is still struggling to pass a climate bill that is in many ways inadequate.
Leading scientists from around the world have urged the world repeatedly to get our climate change emissions down to 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020. Our greenest President in years, Obama, is currently only pledging to get greenhouse gas emissions down to the 1990 level by 2020.
Schellnhuber said: “We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet.” A recent comprehensive study confirms this in showing that we are going beyond the limits of the Earth. Yet, we are still chugging along like we have no need to solve these issues any time in the near future. “We are not even near the reductions that are necessary.”
Climate changes are largely due to emissions of a handful of leading economies — the US being the biggest or second biggest. However, recent polls show that US citizens know relatively little about the climate change issue or the necessary steps to find our way out of it. This looks like it will mean more than half the species on the planet going extinct and countless people dying in natural disasters, from food and water shortages, and from new diseases.
Germany’s Schellnhuber thinks the US still doesn’t understand climate change or the effects it will have on all of the planet. What do you think?
Is the US climate illiterate?