From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Published February 16, 2013 08:28 AM

Climate Change Responses Need Not be All or Nothing

The dialog about climate change, man's role in causing it, and possible responses to limit it or even reverse it, takes on a crisis tone for many. Is this the best way to look at it, and is it the best way to achieve results? For some, this sort of dialog hardens positions and limits our collective ability to do anything. Is there an explanation for why this seems to be happening?

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An Ohio State University statistician says that the natural human difficulty with grasping probabilities is preventing Americans from dealing with climate change.

In a panel discussion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting on Feb. 15, Mark Berliner said that an aversion to statistical thinking and probability is a significant reason that we haven’t enacted strategies to deal with climate change right now.

Berliner, professor and chair of statistics at Ohio State, is the former co-chair of the American Statistical Association’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change Policy, and as such, he spent two years talking with U.S. Congressional staffers about climate change.

As a result, he's come to the conclusion that Americans need to understand that climate change is a range of possible events that are more or less likely. However, the negative impacts of climate change can be reduced by taking some moderate actions today, he said.

"The general public has an understanding of tipping points, the moment beyond which things become inevitable. But as soon as you start thinking of climate change as inevitable, it's easy to throw up your hands and say, 'it's too late, so why bother to do anything?'" Berliner said. "It's like a two-pack-a-day smoker deciding not to cut back on the cigarettes, because he's as good as gone."

Speedometer graphic image via Shutterstock.

Read more at Ohio State University.

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