Thursday, March 8, 2012

What Does Poor Scientific Literacy Mean for Climate Action?

Jesus probably rode dinosaurs.The latest National Science Foundation poll on scientific literacy (PDF) once again reveals America's knowledge of basic scientific issues hasn't improved much over the last three decades. While more people know lasers are light-based and antibiotics don't work on viruses, fewer people say the universe began with a Big Bang. And depressingly, a majority of Americans don't know it takes a year for the Earth to circle the sun or that humans evolved from earlier primates.

That's the grain of salt with which I take polling about whether Americans acknowledge climate science. I mean, if more Americans know the Earth is warming than know it takes one year for the Earth to go around the sun ... that's positive from a climate action perspective, right? Especially when the media won't even connect higher temperatures to the climate crisis. The numbers are still pretty poor for knowing that warming is man-made - but as the NSF poll shows, the more complex the concept, the worse the numbers.

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