Daily Archives: July 17, 2014

When Beliefs and Facts Collide


JULY 5, 2014  Brendan Nyhan

Do Americans understand the scientific consensus about issues like climate change and evolution?

At least for a substantial portion of the public, it seems like the answer is no. The Pew Research Center, for instance, found that 33 percent of the public believes “Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time” and 26 percent think there is not “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades.” Unsurprisingly, beliefs on both topics are divided along religious and partisan lines. For instance, 46 percent of Republicans said there is not solid evidence of global warming, compared with 11 percent of Democrats.

As a result of surveys like these, scientists and advocates have concluded that many people are not aware of the evidence on these issues and need to be provided with correct information. That’s the impulse behind efforts like the campaign to publicize the fact that 97 percent of climate scientists believe human activities are causing global warming.

In a new study, a Yale Law School professor, Dan Kahan, finds that the divide over belief in evolution between more and less religious people is wider among people who otherwise show familiarity with math and science, which suggests that the problem isn’t a lack of information. When he instead tested whether respondents knew the theory of evolution, omitting mention of belief, there was virtually no difference between more and less religious people with high scientific familiarity. In other words, religious people knew the science; they just weren’t willing to say that they believed in it.

see full paper at:

and: abstract

…(read more).

See related:

Conservative Christians and climate change: Five arguments for why one should care about global warming.

By Chris Mooney

Katharine Hayhoe with Don Cheadle on The Years of Living Dangerously.

Image via Years of Living Dangerously/Showtime/YouTube

Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian, has had quite a run lately. A few weeks back, she was featured in the first episode of the Showtime series The Years of Living Dangerously, meeting with actor Don Cheadle in her home state of Texas to explain to him why faith and a warming planet aren’t in conflict. (You can watch that episode for free on YouTube; Hayhoe is a science adviser for the show.) Then Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people of 2014. Cheadle wrote the entry. “There’s something fascinating about a smart person who defies stereotype,” Cheadle observed.

Why is Hayhoe in the spotlight? Simply put, millions of Americans are evangelical Christians, and their belief in the science of global warming is well below the national average. And if anyone has a chance of reaching this vast and important audience, Hayhoe does. “I feel like the conservative community, the evangelical community, and many other Christian communities, I feel like we have been lied to,” explains Hayhoe on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast. “We have been given information about climate change that is not true. We have been told that it is incompatible with our values, whereas in fact it’s entirely compatible with conservative and with Christian values.”

Hayhoe’s approach to science—and to religion—was heavily influenced by her father, a former Toronto science educator and also, at one time, a missionary. “For him, there was never any conflict between the idea that there is a God, and the idea that science explains the world that we see around us,” says Hayhoe. When she was 9, her family moved to Colombia, where her parents worked as missionaries and educators, and where Hayhoe saw what environmental vulnerability really looks like. “Some of my friends lived in houses that were made out of cardboard Tide boxes, or corrugated metal,” she says. “And realizing that you don’t really need that much to be happy, but at the same time, you’re very vulnerable to the environment around you, the less that you have.”

….(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Colorado River – America’s Most Endangered River 2013


Published on Apr 16, 2013

The Colorado River is a lifeline in the desert, its water sustaining tens of millions of people in seven states, as well as endangered fish and wildlife. However, demand on the river’s water now exceeds its supply, leaving the river so over-tapped that it no longer flows to the sea. (Video by Pete McBride. Flights by Lighthawk, Ecoflight.)

Learn more and be part of the solution: www.AmericanRivers.org/Colorado

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
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Protecting Western Massachusetts Farms: Down with Fracking and the Kinder Morgan Pipeline

Lucia Green-Weiskel   Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation,Posted: 07/17/2014 2:57 pm EDT Updated: 1 hour ago

Coauthored by Portia Williams Weiskel

Photo: Emily Greene

For residents of Western Massachusetts, the famous Shay’s Rebellion of 1786-87 has yet to come to an end. The issue then was the rights of farmers who had fought for the American Revolution. Through the years other misguided and invasive projects have been proposed for our beautiful New England region and subsequently halted — the most spectacular act of resistance being local resident Sam Lovejoy’s daring gesture (on George Washington’s birthday, 1974) of toppling the huge weather data collecting towers erected by Northeast Utilities intending to build twin nuclear reactors in the town of Montague.

Now the issue is the extension of the Tennessee Valley Gas pipeline proposal by Kinder Morgan starting in the Berkshire/Tanglewood region on the Massachusetts-New York border. As planned, the 100-foot-wide pipeline is intended to cross the northern tier of Massachusetts bringing fracked gas from Pennsylvania to an export site in the town of Dracut on the Atlantic coastline north of Boston. All things considered (read on) this is the most insane idea to come our way in a long time. For one thing, the pathway will uproot hundreds of acres of pristine forested land, productive farmland, and orchards supported by state funding and tax dollars to be preserved in perpetuity. And gas acquired by fracking? We do need energy sources, but “fracked” gas, in the judgment of many well-informed — and others just using their common sense — is not a sound solution.

So, once again, we stop our lives (perhaps better to think these efforts are our lives) and head to a part of Franklin County we know well from years of searching for wild grapes to make jam each fall. The event is an anti-pipeline demonstration, part of a “rolling walk” along the proposed pipeline route, which ends in Dracut with a rally planned on the Boston Common on July 30 at 11 a.m. Today we are at the Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield. (See more information on the rolling walk on the group’s website.)

Across the familiar rolling orchard fields rising to the highest ridgeline is a line of red balloons marking the proposed pipeline route. Earlier in the day, farmers Tom Clark and son Ben (who will be carrying on the fourth generation of the family farm) took a group of people from the protest event up the hill to point out the 100-foot wide swath of peach trees, which the pipeline project will destroy. Everyone knows these peaches. Nectarines, cherries, grapes, plums, pears, quince, and about a hundred kinds of apples.

The Clarkdale Fruit Farms event brought together an impressive group of concerned citizens and landowners. State Senator Stephen Kulik addressed the crowd. “Is [the pipeline] necessary for Massachusetts? I’ve concluded that it’s not. I’m convinced that we can satisfy our energy needs for the future through conservation and more renewables, a smarter energy policy. Increasing the use of carbon fuels is not going to benefit us in the long term.” Kulik said:

The vast majority of the gas is going elsewhere, and yet we will bear the burden of the environmental impact, the public safety concerns and just the quality-of-life issue. Public awareness on this issue across the state is not where it is here. This march is a great way to bring attention to it.

….(read more).

Cambridge Community Television
http://www.cctvcambridge.org/user/ccraHarvard Extension School
Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Jared Diamond: Thoughts on Managing Change

World Wildlife Fund

Uploaded on May 31, 2011

In early 2011, ClimatePrep.org had a chance to sit down with Jared Diamond to talk about climate change, the challenges presented to conservation and development practitioners, and the opportunities he sees in confronting them.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond is a world-renowned expert on ancient societies. His now famous book, Collapse, is a study of the choices societies have made throughout history in the face of change — climate change, as well as others — and the consequences of such choices.

To learn more about ways people around the world are preparing for and responding to climate change visit www.ClimatePrep.org

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

The Soil Pollution Crisis in China: A Cleanup Presents Daunting Challenge

Tainted Harvest: An e360 Special Report/Part III, 14 July 2014

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
A chemical factory beside a rice paddy in Yixing in Jiangsu Province, where industrial pollution has contaminated soil and food crops.

Chinese officials are only starting to come to grips with the severity and extent of the soil pollution that has contaminated vast areas of the nation’s farm fields – by one estimate more than 8 percent of China’s arable land. But one thing is already clear: The cost and complexity of any remediation efforts will be enormous.
The third and final article in a series.


Luo Jinzhi is 52 and lives in the village of Shuangqiao, in China’s Hunan Province. For the last several years, Luo has been a petitioner, one of millions of Chinese people who find themselves appealing directly to higher authorities in the hope of resolving a problem. Some petition to rectify a legal injustice or to expose local corruption. Luo is petitioning on behalf of her fellow villagers for a remedy for the catastrophic pollution that has afflicted her home village.

Petitioning is a demanding and difficult process in which success is not guaranteed: It involves a long and expensive journey to the nation’s capital, where petitioners are frequently sent on fruitless journeys from one unresponsive official to another. Luo Jinzhe made the thousand-mile journey,

Tainted Harvest:
An e360 Special Report

This article is the third and final article in a three-part series on soil pollution in China. The first article examined the overall problem and the second focused on the impact on China’s food supply. This series is a joint project between Yale Environment 360 and Chinadialogue, with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

most recently this April, to plead for action with the Bureau for Letters and Calls, the first stop for petitioners in the capital, and the Ministry for Environmental Protection, only to be told to go home and wait for the local government to take care of her complaints. She has yet to hear from any of them.

For Luo and her neighbors, the first sign of a serious problem in Shuangqiao was on June 28, 2009, when Luo Bolin, a worker at the Xianghe Chemical Factory, died of cadmium poisoning. When he died, his left leg was marked by large purple contusions; he was only 44. The list of cadmium-related deaths in Shuangqiao has since grown longer, and evidence is mounting of a national pollution crisis that has contaminated China’s soil and food crops and threatens to overwhelm efforts to put it right.

(read more).

Global Climate Change

Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Native American Culture

  • Aired: 11/18/2013
  • 25:23

Three stories about the modern Native American culture: A look at how climate change is effecting a Pacific Northwest tribe known as the “Salmon People” and how science can help find a solution; the Lincoln, Nebraska rock star artist who’s creating sculptures, linking the past to the present; and the fight an Oklahoma tribe tries to revive their fading language.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Harnessing the Sun

Aired: 04/21/2014

  • 27:04

The story of America’s solar industry, and the promise of solar today and tomorrow: rise and fall of the 1970s American solar energy program; a non-profit dedicated to providing low income families with solar panels; the company that built “the worlds greenest office building;” and the Idaho couple blazing new solar paths for America’s highways.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Video: Urban Gardening

  • Aired: 12/23/2013

Sowing Seeds of Change…planting ideas for sustainability and self-sufficiency. Community gardeners in Flint, Michigan are undergoing a variety of projects and planting the seeds of hope for economic revitalization. From green belts to green thumbs, a couple works with children to hone their martial arts and gardening skills; and two women toil with the local government to get their garden growing.


Global Climate Change
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Environment Justice