Ethicsandclimate.org is making available a paper about the scale of the climate change problem and the relative lack of understanding of magnitude of the problem even among educated members of civil society. This paper attempts to describe what people need to know to understand the scale and urgency of the threat and to explain why this understanding is necessary to evaluate the acceptability of any national commitment on climate change. Although this paper looks primarily at the US, the method of evaluation contained in the paper is relevant to the evaluation of any country.
What You Need To Know to Understand the Scale of the Climate Change Problem and The Continuing US Press Failure to Report on the Urgency of this Civilization Challenging Threat
Donald A. Brown
Scholar In Residence, Sustainability Ethics and Law
Widener University School of Law
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and reports that 2012 was the warmest year in US history, climate change has been more visible in the US press recently. Yet despite this increased attention, for the most part, the urgency and magnitude of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions entailed by the mainstream scientific understanding of this civilization challenging problem is not being covered by the US press.
In fact, some of the recent climate change reporting could be understood as actually misleading US citizens that the United States is making acceptable progress in reducing the threat of climate change. For instance, a Scientific American Report of October 2012 was titled: “U.S. May Come Close to 2020 Greenhouse Gas Emission Target“. This article said that the United States is likely to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 16.3 % from 2005 levels by 2020, falling just shy of the 17 % target pledged by President Obama at the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. Other projections of US emissions have found, however, that although the US emissions are dropping compared to 2005, it is not likely that the US will come close to achieving the 17% reduction goal without further legislative action because current reductions will lead a best to a 9% reduction by 2020.
Climate Change Is Real, Yet The US Press Is Not Reporting On The Urgency and Magnitude of the Problem.
One can tell by how climate change policies are being debated around much of the world that few people, including many very educated people, understand the scale and urgency of the problem now being articulated by the most prestigious scientific international institutions.