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Changing Attitudes About Climate Change

Recorded on : May 2, 2014

Air Date: May 5, 2014

City Club’s May 2nd speaker will not discuss whether climate change is occurring or conjecture about whether human behavior contributes to that change. Affirmative answers to both of those questions are taken as given.

Tom Bowerman will talk about identifying attitudes, particularly widely held attitudes, that can lead to meaningful and lasting actions we might take to mitigate or reverse the effects of climate change. His research firm, PolicyInteractive [http://www.policyinteractive.org/] has conducted extensive public opinion surveys about climate change. Their object is to find common attitudes about the topic that can become the basis for beneficial behavior changes in a nation where household consumption accounts for 70 percent of the gross domestic product.

Some survey respondents say that climate change can be checked by superimposing green scientific and technological advances on the negative effects of consumption. Skeptics of that belief suggest that such advances could present their own problems; they say we must limit the use of diminishing natural resources. This is consistent with reports that a large percentage of Oregonians, and others in the U.S.A., support the idea that we should reduce consumption.

But to reduce consumption, some attitudinal barriers must be addressed. Those who support cutting back often underestimate the size of their own carbon footprint. They fail to recognize the extent of the changes required in a country in which consumers drive more than two-thirds of economic activity.

Even if Oregonians and other Americans significantly reduce our overall carbon footprint, questions remain about how much difference it can make if those elsewhere in the world continue to increase their consumption. City Club members will have an opportunity to further explore those issues during the Q&A session following Bowerman’s presentation.

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