The world is at a tipping point.
The planet is in the midst of a prolonged, brutal and unpredictable drought, the effects of which have already been felt.
The latest climate science tells us that this drought will be even worse than the last one.
This is because humans are responsible for the greenhouse effect, which makes up about 10 per cent of the climate system’s energy.
But humans also produce more CO2 than the entire planet’s entire economy.
We can’t stop that from happening, but we can help slow it down.
A new study from University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and the University of Saskatchewan’s Department of Global Change Policy suggests a way to make our brains better at guessing how much climate change will be.
The study found that people with a more “evolved” understanding of the system’s physics are more accurate in their predictions of the rate of global warming over the next decade than those who lack this knowledge.
“We can improve our prediction by training our brain to use information from different sources,” said Paul Cavanagh, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of global change policy at the University at Buffalo and the study’s lead author.
He said it was important to develop tools to better understand and predict climate change in a holistic way.
“It’s the first time we’ve looked at the role of cognition in climate change,” said Cavanaugh.
The researchers looked at responses from a sample of 3,000 people across the world.
They were asked how much they thought global temperatures would rise between now and 2070, and how accurate their predictions were.
They found that those with a “more evolved” understanding, defined as more than a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science or a high school diploma in physical science, were more accurate at predicting the pace of global temperature rise than those without such degrees.
But those with less expertise also tended to be less accurate.
“Our findings suggest that people are better able to anticipate and understand climate change from a cognitive perspective than from a purely physiological perspective,” Cavanah said.
In particular, they found that better-educated people tended to have a stronger sense of how much the climate is changing and more experience with climate simulations.
“People with more expertise tend to be more accurate,” said the study.
“And, we can use this information to help improve our predictions by training brain networks that process information from various sources.”
The research is published online in the journal Science Advances.