Loft T
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English
Workshop
Everyone
Climate change, my friends and I

Short thesis

Despite a broad consensus in the scientific community, many people doubt the severity of the climate crisis. Others are aware of the problem but have large negative environmental impacts. Studies show that our personal opinion and behavior is mainly influenced by our social environment rather than by our knowledge of scientific facts. We discuss about why we believe what we believe, whether we live in a CO₂-class society and if our carbon footprint is smaller than that of a climate skeptic.

Description

In the first part of the workshop we test our knowledge about climate facts and get to know some of the strategies of argument used by climate change skeptics. In a little quiz we dip into the enormous complexity of the earth system, the arising relevant questions and challenges to communicate scientific findings. This fits in very well with the conference motto tl;dr, because due to exactly this complexity and perhaps additional lack of time and domain-specific knowledge, it is very hard to assess facts correctly.

In such cases it is necessary that the public trusts the experts. Since this is too often not the case, we will take a closer look at how our opinions form and change. Studies show that our personal opinion and behavior is mainly influenced by our social environment rather than by our knowledge of scientific facts. What is more, we are also susceptible to so-called cognitive biases, such as the tendency to believe information to be true if it supports our present world view. In the second part of the workshop we implement a simple agent-based model of opinion formation , which is commonly used in climate impact science, with the participants as agents. We observe how the results change when the agents receive only information that aligns well with their world view, an effect that is observed in social online networks like facebook or instagram due to their filtering algorithms.

To conclude the workshop, we discuss how much our behavior is influenced by our opinions and if we live in a CO₂-class society. The participants estimate their real life carbon footprints and find out if these are actually smaller than those of typical climate skeptics. The results often end up in a discussion about climate justice, inequality and redistribution!

The workshop is hosted by clisciety (climate science, energy transition and society), a collective of young scientists that are also active in the movement for climate justice. Maximum of 30 participants.