UC Berkeley Professor Michael Ranney surveyed 270 people in San Diego and found that not even one person could explain what global warming is at even a basic level, so he and his fellow researchers decided to create a simple, succinct phrase to explain how climate change works. What they came up with might be the simplest explanation we have ever heard – it’s just 35 words long, and it’s accompanied by a video clip that expands on the subject in just 52 seconds.
The phrase goes like this: “Earth transforms sunlight’s visible light energy into infrared light energy, which leaves Earth slowly because it is absorbed by greenhouse gases. When people produce greenhouse gases, energy leaves Earth even more slowly – raising Earth’s temperature.” Ranney released this phrase, along with a 400-word expansion and a series of videos, and within four days the videos had garnered over 35,000 views. When presented with this information, Ranney found that undergraduates in California and Texas not only improved their understanding about climate change, but acceptance that climate change is occurring also increased.
Ranney and his co-authors – Dav Clark, Daniel Lee Reinholz and Sarah Cohen – presented their survey findings in a paper titled “Changing Global Warming Beliefs with Scientific Information: Knowledge, Attitudes, and RTMD (Reinforced Theistic Manifest Destiny Theory).” In order to further spread the message, the videos are being translated into several different languages, and Ranney will analyze viewership to determine which videos are the most informative and satisfying. You can check out all of the videos here.