What do people around the world think about climate change?

Global warming appears to be front of mind for people worldwide.

crowd of people participating in the climate strike
Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images

Climate change is reversible – that's the view of 80% of Chinese people, according to a report from the European Investment Bank (EIB).


That level of optimism isn't, however, a global phenomenon. Large numbers of people in the EU and US believe there is nothing that can be done. Northern Europeans, in particular, share this concern; approximately 40% of people in France and Poland think we have gone beyond the tipping point, compared to just over one-quarter in Italy and Spain.

Share of citizens who believe climate change is reversible Percent of citizens who believe climate change is reversible (Image: European Investment Bank)

Climate dominates people's worries

Across Europe, 47% of people view climate change as the biggest challenge in their lives. Healthcare and health services (39%) and unemployment (39%) are ranked as the second biggest challenges to society, with political instability, terrorism and cyberattacks further down the list.

There are regional variations. Southern Europeans regard unemployment as their greatest problem, while according to the EIB, those in Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and other Northern European countries are more worried about the climate.

In China, the level of concern is even higher than in Europe, with 73% worried about the climate crisis. In the US, 39% view it as a major threat.

Share of citizens who think climate change is a major threat to societyPercentage of citizens who see climate change as a major threat to society (Image: European Investment Bank)

Climate risks dominate

Climate change has a wide-ranging impact, affecting everything from agricultural yield volumes to flooding and coastal erosion. In mid-2019, hundreds of thousands of people were affected by floods in Bangladesh that were described as among the worst of recent years. The country is low lying, and home to the Ganges river delta and many other smaller rivers. Changes in sea level are likely to affect Bangladesh and other coastal parts of the world disproportionately.

In the World Economic Forum Global Risks Perception Survey 2018-2019, which informed the Global Risks Report 2019, climate-related risks dominate the most pressing and substantial threats.

It says the two most likely threats are extreme weather and the failure of concerted efforts to affect climate change. These are also in the top three risks felt to have the most significant potential impact.

The Global Risks Landscape 2019The climate crisis could make itself felt through many different risks and threats (Image: The Global Risks Report 2019)

Environmental migration

The EIB surveyed 30,000 people from 30 countries. One of its key themes was climate-induced migration. Throughout Europe, 82% of respondents revealed that they think climate change and extreme weather events will force people to leave their home countries.

Almost one-quarter (24%) of Europeans think they will relocate to another country because of climate change, with 41% of younger Europeans saying it's likely they will move. While 33% of Austrians aged between 15 and 29 anticipate making such a move, more than one-half (51%) of similarly aged Spaniards are prepared to move.

Reprinted with permission of the World Economic Forum. Read the original article.

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Volcanoes to power bitcoin mining in El Salvador

The first nation to make bitcoin legal tender will use geothermal energy to mine it.

Credit: Aaron Thomas via Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

In June 2021, El Salvador became the first nation in the world to make bitcoin legal tender. Soon after, President Nayib Bukele instructed a state-owned power company to provide bitcoin mining facilities with cheap, clean energy — harnessed from the country's volcanoes.

The challenge: Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a digital form of money and a payment system. Crypto has several advantages over physical dollars and cents — it's incredibly difficult to counterfeit, and transactions are more secure — but it also has a major downside.

Crypto transactions are recorded and new coins are added into circulation through a process called mining.

Crypto mining involves computers solving incredibly difficult mathematical puzzles. It is also incredibly energy-intensive — Cambridge University researchers estimate that bitcoin mining alone consumes more electricity every year than Argentina.

Most of that electricity is generated by carbon-emitting fossil fuels. As it stands, bitcoin mining produces an estimated 36.95 megatons of CO2 annually.

A world first: On June 9, El Salvador became the first nation to make bitcoin legal tender, meaning businesses have to accept it as payment and citizens can use it to pay taxes.

Less than a day later, Bukele tweeted that he'd instructed a state-owned geothermal electric company to put together a plan to provide bitcoin mining facilities with "very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy."

Geothermal electricity is produced by capturing heat from the Earth itself. In El Salvador, that heat comes from volcanoes, and an estimated two-thirds of their energy potential is currently untapped.

Why it matters: El Salvador's decision to make bitcoin legal tender could be a win for both the crypto and the nation itself.

"(W)hat it does for bitcoin is further legitimizes its status as a potential reserve asset for sovereign and super sovereign entities," Greg King, CEO of crypto asset management firm Osprey Funds, told CBS News of the legislation.

Meanwhile, El Salvador is one of the poorest nations in North America, and bitcoin miners — the people who own and operate the computers doing the mining — receive bitcoins as a reward for their efforts.

"This is going to evolve fast!"
NAYIB BUKELE

If El Salvador begins operating bitcoin mining facilities powered by clean, cheap geothermal energy, it could become a global hub for mining — and receive a much-needed economic boost in the process.

The next steps: It remains to be seen whether Salvadorans will fully embrace bitcoin — which is notoriously volatile — or continue business-as-usual with the nation's other legal tender, the U.S. dollar.

Only time will tell if Bukele's plan for volcano-powered bitcoin mining facilities comes to fruition, too — but based on the speed of things so far, we won't have to wait long to find out.

Less than three hours after tweeting about the idea, Bukele followed up with another tweet claiming that the nation's geothermal energy company had already dug a new well and was designing a "mining hub" around it.

"This is going to evolve fast!" the president promised.

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