Monday, April 23, 2007

Why all the heightened interest in global warming? Salient Events and Bayes Rule or Social Interactions

What is your theory for why more folks are talking about climate change as a "real"
issue than in the recent past? Is Al Gore a causal homogenous treatement effect? Or was this winter too warm relative to the recent past and this has convinced you that "things have changed"? Or, are your friends talking about it and you want to fit in with the gang? Or, have more people woken up and decided to be "good people" rather than "selfish" people and now think through the social consequences of their actions?

I'm not sure what is the right model of human behavior here but I do think that
social interactions have played a role here. I'm not even sure we know the true facts here concerning what % of the population is genuinely concerned about climate change AND willing to vote with their pocket book and in the political process to do something about it. The article below presents some public opinion polls and some nice quotes. But, is this "cheap talk"? We need some market data for people to reveal their willingness to pay to mitigate greenhouse gas production!

This Earth Day, a focus on Earth's warming
Public awareness about climate change is growing; 83 percent of Americans now call it a 'serious' problem.
By Brad Knickerbocker | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Page 1 of 3

Ashland, Ore - For years, Earth Day celebrants have hugged trees, dressed up as their favorite endangered species, and extolled the virtues of compost and organic gardening.

This year, April 22, the annual day to tout personal and community greenness, has a new emphasis for many people: global warming and its predicted effects on Mother Earth.

Around the country and around the world, a batch of recent opinion surveys show swelling public interest in and concern about climate change.

There is "a significant shift in public attitudes toward the environment and global warming [with] fully 83 percent of Americans now saying global warming is a 'serious' problem, up from 70 percent in 2004," reports the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

"The last six months have been the most rapid period of change in public awareness and attitudes on climate change that I've ever seen," says William Moomaw, a Tufts University climate expert and coauthor of the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN-sponsored group of scientists.

Demand for climate-change briefings he's delivered for the past five years have jumped in the past year, says Dr. Moomaw. Audiences who were once polite are now actively engaged.

Now, after talks he regularly finds himself surrounded by mobs of questioners eager to learn more.

One of those who has questions about climate change and its possible impact on local weather patterns is Suzy Carpenter, a fourth-generation Arizonan who lives in Mesa. She's noticed a change in what she calls the summer monsoon season there.

"When I was little it would pour buckets every single night, and it was that way through the summers until I was probably in my mid-20s," says Ms. Carpenter, speaking of the 1970s. "Now it's cycled down to where we get three or four storms per summer, and we're always short on rainfall now."

Why all the heightened interest in global warming?