Is the US Climate Illiterate?

“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?

via Reuters and Treehugger

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Image Credit 1: hakahonu via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 2: hakahonu via flickr under a Creative Commons license

  • harbinger

    As yet more unravelling of the climate claims is occurring at the moment with the Briffa tree-ring data, I think the US are perhaps the only one’s prepared to question the validity of the IPCC scenarios and realise that their own observations are telling them something different. Schellnhuber is becoming increasingly hysterical as he realises that the game is almost up and there will be no deal at Copenhagen.

  • Judy Cross

    Flawed climate data

    Only by playing with data can scientists come up with the infamous ‘hockey stick’ graph of global warming.

    It’s time to get new jobs. there is going to be a gigantic backlash when people understand the import of this story.

  • gosiek

    Unfortunately, not only the USA is climate illiterate.
    In Poland is the same or even worse…

  • ac

    Unfortunately there is an overwhelming population of Americans who refuse to acknowledge that there is climate problem in the first place. The faster we destroy our earth the sooner Jesus will come and scoop us out of the mess? I wonder if the unreliability of information presented by various media makes it easier for people to pick and choose their own truths…and live comfortably ignoring important issues.

  • sept

    Americans know junk science when it is being done. This German is trying to line his pockets using the global warming scam. So what if too many people around the world listen to their “experts” and believe them without ever questioning the data used to establish the idea.

  • Yolanda Arellano

    I remember seeing a BBC documentary about the indigenous people living in the Andes who said, a decade ago, that they could see that there were ominous changes occurring high up in the mountains. They were more in tune with the earth and we, with all the technology in the world, remain a society remains divided, polarized. We are more concerned with being on the side of the “right” party and to hell with the other half.

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