Results and Analysis

What is Global Warming?

Misconception: Most interviewees believe that global warming is the earth getting warmer as a result of some human activity this was evident in the frequently used most term "man-made." Some interviewees gave answers describing the causes/effects in addition to giving their definition of the term Global Warming. Overall the responses were accurate, but incomplete. In general their responses indicated that global warming is the warming of the earth’s temperature. The interviewees did not mention the fact that the collection of harmful pollutants, which block the sun’s heat from escaping intensifies the greenhouse effect.

Fact: Global Warming is an intensified greenhouse effect.

What causes Global Warming? How does that contribute to Global Warming?

Misconception: Most Interviewees believed that human activity is the only cause of Global Warming.  Interviewees mentioned car emissions, factories, excessive use of energy and electricity, air travel, and aerosols as the culprits responsible for Global Warming.

Fact:  (See Greenhouse Effect)

What could be done about Global Warming?

Misconception: Interviewees mentioned that we could do things like plant trees, drive less, recycle, reuse things, consume less, use energy efficient appliances, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and stop polluting. Overall, interviewees gave accurate responses about what could be done about global warming, however, their responses were broad descriptions.  Only one respondent elaborated on how these solutions would help combat Global Warming.


What is “climate change"?

Misconception:  Many interviewees believe that climate change is a kind of a dramatic shift in the climate and that it is related to major catastrophes. Most understood the idea that climate relates to a general pattern of weather in a particular area and could differentiate it between weather.

 Climate change is the statistical distribution of weather over periods of time that ranges from decades to million of years.  It can be change in the average weather or a change in the distribution of weather events around an average.

What is the “Greenhouse Effect"?

Misconception:  Most understood that the Greenhouse Effect involves some form of gasses and related that it is the cause of the increase in temperature. Problems with the balance of greenhouse gasses were attributed to human made products and pollutants like coolants, refrigerants, etc 

The Greenhouse Effect is when heat from the Earth is radiated outward and absorbed by “greenhouse gasses” in the atmosphere. This process prevents heat from disappearing into space and keeps Earth warm enough to sustain life.  Without them our planet would be seemingly lifeless, something close to that of Mars. The problem is there are high amounts in our atmosphere today, creating a warming situation which could lead to something like Venus. 

Some human activities (primarily the burning of fossil fuels) intensify the warming effect by releasing additional greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. These gasses include Carbon Dioxide, Methane, CFC’s, Nitrous Oxide and Surface Ozone. They come from varying sources and have different heat-trapping capacities also referred to as radiative potency.

What is the hole in the ozone layer/ozone depletion?

Misconception:   Most struggled in responding to this, even those with backgrounds in science. Most are fixated on the notion that we have created a hole in the ozone layer and that this has made the sun’s rays more “potent” and consequently causing temperature rises. 

Fact: The ozone layer has thinned however, it is beginning to rejuvenate. 

How do you know all of this?

Most people said they got their information primarily from the media, more specifically, from the television news. Others also cited books, magazines and 'hearsay.' Only three of the people interviewed said that they learnt about Global Warming during formal education.

It is clear that most of our interviewees believe what they hear in the media. They feel confident that they had received all they needed to know from the media. However, as we can see from their misconceptions, their information and their understanding is not completely accurate. The media therefore, must take more responsibility to ensure they disseminate correct information about Global Warming.