A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change found that a baffling 40 percent of the people of the world haven’t yet heard about climate change. If this dings your hope that anything’s going to be done about it, well, scientists feel your pain. They hope the findings will help them explain climate change to non-Western countries that are going to be completely screwed by a changing climate — not to put too fine a point on things.
Based on a Gallup Poll conducted in 2007 and 2008, the study weighed two big questions: How much do people know about climate change? And are they aware of its threat to themselves and their families?
Awareness was correlated directly with education on the subject. Ignorance of climate change as a global phenomenon (rather than as mere changes in weather) was highest in countries such as Egypt, India, and Bangladesh. But the study found that people in developing nations identified the risk of climate change as higher than people in developed nations like the United States. In this, they were correct: The countries that have contributed the least to global warming are likely to feel its worst effects.
The scientists found that education requires that they take local customs and cultures into account — a task easier said than done. The world needs to pull together quickly on this one for a wider consensus. Climate change is a thing, and its risks are very high indeed.