Monday, September 20, 2010

In the News Today

[Every day I read news about the state of the environment and the things we humans do to help it or harm it. I'll try to share some of the stories with you on this blog.]

 Two Australian researchers (a psychologist and a climate scientist) have published a paper about why so many of us are unconvinced that climate change is happening. Apparently there are a lot of psychological traps we fall into when trying to understand what we're being told about climate change by the media, politicians, and each other. For example, do you know how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere? Does 0.0384% by volume, or 390 parts per million, mean anything to you? Sound kind of tiny? Well, if we took all of the CO2 and collapsed it into a single layer, it would be eight metres thick. All of a sudden it's not insignificant.

 Another way to help us understand climate change facts would be to learn about it in undergrad: the National Tertiary Education Union (an Australian union for workers in academia and related industries) is proposing that university students be required to become environmentally literate by taking courses on basic climate science and how their chosen field of study contributes to climate change. While the union can't directly affect university curricula, it can demand these changes be made as a condition of future labour contracts. Will Australia pave the way for us to adopt similar measures in North America?

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