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Environmental Risk Perception: Climate Change Viewpoints Essay

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Updated: Jun 18th, 2020

Introduction

Climate change underscores the different happenings or changes that happen to the weather over a long period. Since the issue is related to human activities, it has been termed as an environmental risk. Climate change is a controversial issue since some scholars argue that it has extreme effects on the existence of human beings and other living things, while others hold that it has low or minimal effects. This issue has elicited heated debates and opinions from many scholars. This paper will analyse the ideas of two scholarly journal articles with different viewpoints of climate change.

Leiserowitz, A. (2005). American risk perceptions: Is climate change dangerous? Risk Analysis, 25(6), 1433-1442.

In this article, Leiserowitz is interested in understanding public perceptions regarding climate change. He holds the belief that public “risk perceptions compel political, economic and social actions towards a particular risk, and thus public support or opposition to climate change has a strong influence of the risks and dangers of the potential environmental risk” (Leiserowitz, 2005, p. 1435). In addition, Steg, van den Berg, and de Groot (2013) posit that risk perception “refers to people’s subjective judgement about the risk that is associated with some activity, event, or technology” (p. 17).

Based on this argument, the majority of Americans have blurred risk perception of climate change. The author uses the results of a study that was carried in 2003 to highlight public perceptions about climate change. According to many Americans, climate change is a low risk. According to the study, people living in the US do not consider climate change as a grievous issue, and it will most probably be an issue to people from distant lands. The author believes that the issue is important because it has caught the attention of many researchers and scientists. However, he says that the issue does not deserve much attention as in the eyes of the public it poses minimal risk.

The study was carried among different populations in the United States, and they all showed little support to climate change as a pertinent issue in society. People across the United States believe that there are more pressing issues, and climate change is not one of them. They hold that the phenomenon is part of climate and they have no control to it, and thus they should focus on the pressing issues, which they can control and influence.

Thomas, D., Cameron, A., Green, E., Bakkenes, M., Beaumont, J., Collingham, C.,… & Williams, E. (2004). Extinction risk from climate change. Nature, 427(6970), 145-148.

According to Thomas et al. (2004), climate changes have produced numerous shifts in the distributions and abundances of species over the past 3 years. This assertion hinges on the level of extinction of some species. The authors carry out projects on the extinction of different species living in disparate terrestrial regions. They explore how the extinction of different species will continue to happen in the coming years.

From their analysis, the authors hold the view that 15% to 17% of the species on earth will be committed to extinction by 2050. This observation holds because of climate change or global warming scenarios. They also show how climate change is affecting the different known terrestrials. This study shows that climate change is a serious risk since it is not sparing any living thing. The authors also believe that human beings are responsible for this phenomenon since they have the power to control all other living things. In addition, their activities are the main causes of climate change.

The authors see climate change as a big threat to the existence of human beings and other living things on earth, which is the only habitable planet contemporarily. They recommend the use of different technologies to help decrease the emission of greenhouse gases that contribute significantly to climate change. If the appropriate measures are not taken, the authors argue that the outcomes of climate change will continue to worsen, and thus endanger the existence of all living things on Earth.

Comparing and contrasting

Thomas et al. (2004) hold different views from Leiserowitz, as they believe that climate change poses a great risk to human existence on Earth. The two articles differ because Leiserowitz (2005) uses the ideas of the public to analyse the risk of climate change. Since many people do not have facts about climate change, it is probably the reason why they believe that it poses negligible risk to society. On the other hand, Thomas et al. (2004) hold that climate change poses a great risk to society using facts. They look at what has happened to different species through extinction, coupled with highlighting the probable causes of the same. This aspect shows clearly that climate change is a threat to the wellbeing of all human beings.

The risk perceptions of climate change, according to Leiserowitz (2005), are limited. They only cover what is known about climate change rather than using evidence to understand the real situation. Thomas et al. (2005), in their article, take a different position as they have unlimited information. They use evidence from the observable changes to explain the adverse effects of climate change.

However, the two articles appreciate the view that climate change is an issue that has penetrated deeply in society. Everybody is talking about climate change. Even in the media, this phenomenon is an issue that has been given special emphasis. Leiserowitz (2005) obtained the opinions of the public about climate change because everyone is aware of the issue. This assertion explains the reason why they share their views about the same.

Thomas et al. (2004) consider the extinction of different species to illustrate what climate change can do to living things. This aspect shows that they consider the issue as a pertinent one in society. Ultimately, they all agree that additional research is needed on the risk (Thomas et al., 2004; Leiserowitz, 2005). They take this position probably because they consider it an important issue that will define the existence of all human beings and other living things in the future.

Conclusion

The analysis of the two articles shows that people hold different perceptions of climate change. In the United States, the government has taken swift actions to minimise the number of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. This scenario is also happening in other countries for climate change is posing a great risk to the existence of human beings and other living things. Therefore, I would support Thomas et al. (2004) because climate change has shown its real effects. The phenomenon is real (Bell, Greene, Fisher & Baum, 2005), and thus there is a dire need for society to find means of addressing it rather than assuming that it will be solved in the course of time. Being proactive concerning the issue will save the existence of human beings and other living things, and thus such actions are critical. The world should be unified in dealing with climate change, as the phenomenon requires collective efforts.

References

Steg, L., van den Berg, A., & de Groot, J. (2013). Environmental Psychology: An Introduction. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

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