Abstract

Summer 2010 saw a new suite of climate change studies from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) with the stark conclusion that “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for—and in many cases is already affecting—a broad range of human and natural systems.”1 The NAS series received a boost from separate research indicating that up to 98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing agree with the tenets of anthropogenic climate change outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.2 At about the same time, however, Senator Harry Reid (D–NV) announced he couldn’t find the votes to pass legislation designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from major sources.3 Meanwhile, in California, a fiercely debated jobs bill called Proposition 23 seeks to suspend—some say effectively repeal—the state’s ambitious greenhouse gas legislation until unemployment drops to no more than 5.5% for a full year.4 This whopping disconnect between legislators and the scientific community could be a signal that it is time for a new path toward climate change mitigation and adaptation that more directly involves the public. Many researchers interested in global warming are wondering: just what might it take to encourage individuals in the United States to think more seriously about climate change?

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