This is why some people don’t believe in global warming (and it’s not because they’re stupid)

Rob Waugh

There is no ‘controversy’ over global warming – study after scientific study has shown that not only is our planet getting warmer, it’s our fault.

But when you ask Americans whether global warming might, possibly be related to human activity, in many states less than 50% agree, according to climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

But it’s not because they’re stupid – or poorly educated, Hayhoe says.

Hayhoe says, ‘Our response to climate change denial is often let’s just give them the facts – the fundamental science behind it is very simple, and very old.’

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In a speech to Norway’s Starmus science festival, Hayhoe said that the real reason people disbelieve climate change is not doubt over the science.

Hayhoe says, ‘This is science that we use every day – from designing aeroplanes to our stoves. People don’t complain about it there.

‘We found that people with the highest level of scientific literacy weren’t the most concerned about global warming – they just had the highest level of polarisation.

‘It’s not a lack of information, it’s not that people don’t know enough about science. The right question to ask is, ‘Do you care? Do you think it’s going to affect you personally?’

‘Within five minutes, the objection is that the government is going to take away our freedom. It’s not, ‘Those scientists aren’t sure,’ it’s ‘I don’t want the government controlling my life.’

‘We don’t have to convince them that the science is real. We have to turn this around.’

Starmus festival, hosted by NTNU, Norway, Trondheim, www.starmus.com. Starmus is the world’s most ambitious science and arts festival with Professor Stephen Hawking as keynote speaker, 11 Nobel laureates and Buzz Aldrin, Oliver Stone, Brian Cox and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

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