Lately, climate change has become a hot topic. Everyone seems to have an opinion about it. I spoke to my sister yesterday and she said that there had been no rain for the past several months in Tamil Nadu, a state in South India with a population of 80 million, while in Kashmir the rivers were in spate. She attributed this to the Ozone layer and warming up of the planet. She then asked why nature’s fury is felt here and not elsewhere. My sister lives in a small town and she is not well informed about world affairs. I spoke about the drought in California, the floods in England, the extreme winter in North America and so on.
After speaking with my sister, I began to wonder how much misconception we carry with us in the name of facts. Around the same time, Veritasium posted video on climate change and it seemed very relevant now.
In India, lack of rain is often attributed to God’s wrath. Very seldom our modern lifestyle with its insatiable need to acquire material wealth or unbridled population expansion, is discussed. PNAS also has published a few papers on public perception on water and energy and some of the key misconceptions are reflected in the video by Veritasium. Attari concludes that
Overall, perception of water use is more accurate than the perception of energy consumption and savings previously reported, however perceptions of both resources show significant underestimation.
A friend of mine is working on how climate change affects public health ( a course she runs is called climate change and sustainability).
It is not any more being penny wise (which can lead one to become pound foolish) but about a different way of living, without necessarily having to live like an ascetic.
Based on the two papers by Attari, Ditez writes in PNAS on ‘Understanding environmentally significant consumption’
It is clear that changes in consumer behavior can help reduce the stress we place on the environment. It is equally clear that an integrative theory of environmentally signifi- cant consumption can guide efficiency policy. However, generating the science to inform effective policy will require serious investment in interdisciplinary research.