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Gross Investigates Relationship Between Climate Change Beliefs and Risk

Louis GrossLouis Gross, Chancellor’s Professor in the UT Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, recently co-authored an article, “Determinants of Emissions Pathways in the Coupled Climate-Social System” published in the journal Nature, which investigates whether or not there is a link between humans’ belief in climate change risk and the Earth’s changing climate. 

“This research indicates that there are significant feedbacks between the physical climate system and human behavioral, societal and economic responses that affect our ability to project future climate,” said Gross. “Our research demonstrates that these feedbacks can somewhat reduce the negative impacts of climate change that are projected to occur when the feedback to human behavior and societal responses are not taken into account.”

This research focuses on how social, political, and technological factors are all critical for predicting the degree our climate will change overtime. Gross explains how this research can be a driving force for society to take more progressive steps to help reduce the negative impact of climate change. People’s beliefs in climate change and its relevance can affect the policies in place. This along with other factors will ultimately have an impact on the earth’s climate.

This research was supported by the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), which is headquartered at UT. It was funded by the National Science Foundation with additional support from UT.

“This research is part of a set of collaborative efforts which began several years ago through the support of the NIMBioS. It fostered a highly interdisciplinary group of researchers, with backgrounds in economics, public policy, psychology, mathematics, ecology and climate science, which allowed this effort to be successful,” said Gross.

The collaborations established through Gross and his colleague’s research is continuing using new models, alternate theories, and approaches to enhance climate projections that account for societal responses.

Story by Sarah Berry