one of the most frightening studies I've read recently had nothing to do with icebergs or megadroughts. In a paper that came out Oct. 23 in Science, John Sterman — a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Sloan School of Management — wrote about asking 212 MIT grad students to give a rough idea how much governments need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to eventually stop the increase in the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere. These students had training in science, technology, mathematics and economics at one of the best schools in the world — they are probably a lot smarter than you or me. Yet 84% of Sterman's subjects got his problem wrong, greatly underestimating the degree to which greenhouse gas emissions need to fall. When the MIT kids can't figure out climate change, what are the odds that the broader public will?
The shocking study reflects the tremendous gap that exists on global warming. On the one hand are the scientists, who with few exceptions think that climate change is very serious and needs to be dealt with immediately and ambitiously. On the other side is the public, which increasingly believes that climate change is real and worries about it, but which rarely ranks it as a high priority.
we can't "wait and see" on global warming because the climate has a momentum all its own, and if we wait for decades to finally act to reduce carbon emissions, it could well be too late.