As the hegemonic imperialist power since World War II, it has blocked the progress of humanity, or rather attacked it, to defend its capitalist class interests.
Yet, the United States working people share the same interest as the rest of the humanity and they are themselves victims of the same policies that have undermined the world progress.
The key to the progress in the U.S., and indeed the world, is in the awakening of the American working people to the fact that the capitalist economy they work to perpetuate and the politicians they keep voting into office are responsible for these policies. These policies range from the longest U.S. wars in progress today to climate change. And yet, consciousness lags in the United States. Thus, the myth of American democracy perpetuates. How can a country where its citizens are not aware of the most pressing world problems, their causes and consequences, and possible solutions, can lay claim to be democratically run and presume to force its will on other nations with the claim to spread democracy?
It is in this context that the findings of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) is important to review. It underscores how ill-informed the American public continues to be about climate change and global warming, and, their causes and consequences. Also, it indirectly shows how the failure of the educational institutions in the United States, including schools but also the mass media to educate the public about a central, if not the central, challenge facing the humanity. This not because of a lack of interest in learning. The report states: Americans also recognize their own limited understanding of the issue. Only 1 in 10 say that they are “very well informed” about climate change, and 75 percent say they would like to know more. Likewise, 75 percent say that schools should teach our children about climate change and 68 percent would welcome a national program to teach Americans about the issue.
What follows is the Executive Summary of the YPCCC report. I urge you to read the full report downloadable in PDF format from the YPCCC web site.
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Americans’ Knowledge of Climate Change reports results from a national study of what Americans understand about how the climate system works, and the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to global warming.
The study found that 63 percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening, but many do not understand why. In this assessment, only 8 percent of Americans have knowledge equivalent to an A or B, 40 percent would receive a C or D, and 52 percent would get an F. The study also found important gaps in knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change and the earth system. These misconceptions lead some people to doubt that global warming is happening or that human activities are a major contributor, to misunderstand the causes and therefore the solutions, and to be unaware of the risks. Thus many Americans lack some of the knowledge needed for informed decision-making in a democratic society. For example, only:
• 57% know that the greenhouse effect refers to gases in the atmosphere that trap heat;
• 50% of Americans understand that global warming is caused mostly by human activities;
• 45% understand that carbon dioxide traps heat from the Earth’s surface;
• 25% have ever heard of coral bleaching or ocean acidification.
Meanwhile, large majorities incorrectly think that the hole in the ozone layer and aerosol spray cans contribute to global warming, leading many to incorrectly conclude that banning aerosol spray cans or stopping rockets from punching holes in the ozone layer are viable solutions.
However, many Americans do understand that emissions from cars and trucks and the burning of fossil fuels contribute to global warming, and that a transition to renewable energy sources is an important solution.
In addition, despite the recent controversies over “climategate” and the 2007 IPCC report, this study finds that Americans trust scientists and scientific organizations far more than any other source of information about global warming. In addition, despite the recent controversies over “climategate” and the 2007 IPCC report, this study finds that Americans trust scientists and scientific organizations far more than any other source of information about global warming.
Americans also recognize their own limited understanding of the issue. Only 1 in 10 say that they are “very well informed” about climate change, and 75 percent say they would like to know more. Likewise, 75 percent say that schools should teach our children about climate change and 68 percent would welcome a national program to teach Americans about the issue.