An Indian farmer shows his few surviving plants in a parched paddy in Ranbir Singh Pura, near Jammu, in August 2012. (Photo: AP)

Over 40% of the World’s Adults Have Never Heard of Climate Change…Wait What?

*Originally published on on July 29th, 2015 by Sean Sawyer*

According to the new study, published in Nature Climate Change, at least 40% of the world’s adults has never heard of climate change.

This finding really highlights the deep seeded irony of climate change. While first world countries like the United States and most of Western Europe shows over 75% awareness of climate change, poorer countries do not. Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication said in a statement. “This rises to more than 65 percent in some developing countries, like Egypt, Bangladesh and India.”


Climate awareness and concern worldwide. (Yale)


“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes the case that climate change is real and happening much more strongly than before. We are already seeing the effects of climate change in Bangladesh and across south Asia. It’s not news to us. Most developing countries are facing climate change now. They do not need the IPCC to tell them that the weather is changing”, said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, based in Dhaka.

And as the world becomes hotter, poorer nations that already suffer from poverty and hunger will face the strife at an even greater extreme. Oxfam, an anti-poverty organization, predicts that with current climate change, the world hunger rate will rise from 10% to 20% worldwide in 2050.

“The changing climate is already jeopardizing gains in the fight against hunger, and it looks set to worsen,” said Oxfam. “A hot world is a hungry world. If the remainder of the 21st century unfolds like its first decade, we will soon experience climate extremes well outside the boundaries of human experience.”

China, the Unite States, India, and Russia are all the top emitters of CO2 in the world, yet of those aware of climate change in each country, many of them do not see it as a serious threat with the exclusion of India who is aware of the severity of climate change. But in Russia and China, less than half of those aware of climate change do not see it as a serious threat.


Countries by carbon dioxide emissions in thousands of tonnes per annum, via the burning of fossil fuels. (Source: Wikipedia)

“In the US, people with a very strong ideology of individual freedom over all other values (think Tea Party, Libertarians, John Birch Society, etc.) are often hostile to anything that seems to require government action,” Leiserowitz tells Brian Merchant of Motherboard. “It’s a big part of what’s currently happening within the Republican base. You don’t find these same political dynamics in most other countries.”

The same team that conducted this survey, conducted another survey about climate change in India, led by Leiserowitz. The team found that it was easy to convince the people of the severity of climate change once climate change was explained to them. But in nations like America, Russia, and China the idea of climate change is a political one. America is the most aware of climate change with 97% of Americans hearing of climate change, yet just over 50% find it to be alarming.

The current Obama administration has made strides in involving private firms in the attack on climate change. And many companies are following through. Yesterday, US corporate giants including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway and Goldman Sachs are looking to invest at least $140 billion into shrinking their current carbon footprint. More companies are expected to join this initiative prior to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of this year. And awareness cannot come any too soon as we have been experiencing record temperatures all across the world.


The $140 billion will go to cutting emissions, financing environmentally focused companies, reducing water consumption, and producing 1,600 megawatts of renewable energy, according to International Business Times.

Perhaps now that we have this data, these companies can use their money and influence to educate those 40% unaware of the climate change crisis.

Also, a special shoutout to South America who generally seems the most aware of the severity of this crisis. Perhaps it is because all they have to do is look around and see how their world is changing, like in this photo in Brazil.


In this Oct. 30, 2014 photo, the earth lays cracked in the nearly empty Itaim dam, responsible for providing water to the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, which is experiencing the worst drought to hit southeastern Brazil in more than eight decades. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)


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