2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM
Paper No. 228-3
Presentation Time: 8:50 AM-9:05 AM

Geological Literacy during the Anthropocene Epoch: Public Understanding of Global Climate Change and Public Policy

MOORE, Juli A., Department of Geological Sciences, Michigan State University, 206 Natural Sciences, East Lansing, MI 48824, mooreju9@msu.edu and MILLER, Jon D., Hannah Professor of Integrative Studies and Director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy, Michigan State University, 112 Natural Science, East Lansing, MI 48824

The Anthropocene Epoch characterizes a new age depicted by changes in global environmental conditions as a result of interactions between man and the planet. During this age, a global perspective has brought attention to conduct research that addresses the intricacies of global climate change and public policy. From the Kyoto Protocol to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), news headlines are riddled with information on global warming. With public policy being the direct result of competent democracy, the sociopolitical contexts of defining geological literacy are reaching critical levels. To fill that need, a 2008 national survey was conducted to evaluate the publics understanding of geologically relevant issues such as citizenship, globalization, and threshold concepts directly related to climate change. Our research indicates that the majority of the nation holds positive scientific attitudes, over 50% report being interested and informed on international, scientific, and global climate change issues; however, the public holds misconceptions concerning climate change. For example, 66% of the nation believes that greenhouse gases result in increased temperatures, while only 30% of the nation believes that fossil fuel usage has an impact on global warming. Among other findings, our analyses suggest that humans do not understand the carbon cycle. If citizens are unable to process the concept of conservation of matter, then how as a scientific community can we expect them to understand the particulars of drought and wildfire, intense weather patterns, spread of disease, melting glaciers, and ecosystem disruptions? For change to occur it is important to understand that citizens base their decisions on psychological, social, and institutional processes while expert based decisions are on biodiversity vulnerability to anthropogenic effects. Our research therefore aids in providing a direct measure of the geological literacy which scientist can utilize to actively communicate with the general public.

2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 228
Global Warming Science: Implications for Geoscientists, Educators, and Policy Makers I
George R. Brown Convention Center: General Assembly Theater Hall B
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 40, No. 6, p. 315

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