Ezra Markowitz came to the University of Tennessee on Tuesday to talk about climate change. He focused on the public and their perceptions of the changing climate.
Markowitz, a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University, presented the Darwin Day audience with a lecture entitled: Communicating Climate Change to an Uncertain Public. He has recently been researching the psychological factors that go into a persons answer about climate change.
According to Markowitz, 99 percent of Americans have heard about climate change, but only about 50 percent actually believe that climate change is really happening. When doing research the public is more likely to say that they believe in a changing climate after certain events.
We are trying to understand this issue with our ancient minds.-Ezra Markowitz
“We are trying to understand this issue with our ancient minds,” Markowitz stated, in regards to the public’s view on climate change.
He continued saying that the public’s mind has not evolved in a climate changing world. Instead of being able to focus on the future, people are extremely reliant on direct experience.
“We find a higher percentage of people saying climate change is happening when asked on a warmer day,” Markowitz said.
Studies also have confirmed that people are also more likely to say they believe the climate is changing after a large natural disaster such as a hurricane, blizzard or flood.
President Obama stressed the importance of doing something about the climate changing in his recent State of the Union address on Tuesday.
“If congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” the President stated. “I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”