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Students’ Attitudes towards the Importance of Taking Action against Climate Change
Background: This paper aims to investigate students’ attitude towards the importance of taking action against climate change in the UK.
Methods: The research included 14 students. In this survey, which was conducted online, ten-item questionnaire questions were structured to examine the knowledge of students and their attitude towards the importance of taking action against evident climate change.
Results: More than 50% of the participants are aware of climate change and greenhouse effect. Most of them also believe that more intense actions should be applied for handling these problems. Thus, their attitude towards already taken actions is positive. However, there is a section of students who remained undecided.
Conclusion: The survey indicated that most students are aware of the climate change and the greenhouse effect. While the majority of participants demonstrated positive attitude towards actions taken against climate change, bias might limit the outcome. Students should receive more profound knowledge about climate change and the benefits of solving this problem. It will help to increase the number of students with positive attitude.
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Currently, climate change is a subject of controversies and protests in the UK. According to the latest studies, it is the main issue, which draws attention of most people. Sscientists recently warned that the wrecking electricity cables, as well as IT and gas cables on the bridges, would probably be destroyed (Nesbitt et al. 2016). The committee responsible for handling climate change issue echoes this notification by indicating that poor farming will also have a long-term impact on the environment in the mid-century since the major part of fertile soil is likely to be degraded by around 2050s (Greening & Azapagic 2013). Fortunately, the UK government is working tirelessly to reduce the effects of climate change. Some of the actions taken against this issue include the investment in low-carbon sources of energy, the improvement of standards for fuels in cars, and the advancement of the efficiency of energy in certain areas. The government also uses all the resources it has including such opportunities as milder winters to mitigate the risk of climate change (King and van den Bergh 2017). Other economic opportunities that the government utilizes are insurance and engineering (Pashley, Satchwell & Edwards 2015). By putting insurance into practice, the government greatly reduces the risks associated with climate change through providing compensations for property lost during calamities (Alzahrani, Boussabaine & Alzaed 2016). Notably, students credit or undermine these actions basing on different views. Hence, this study is aimed at examining their attitudes towards the importance of taking actions against climate change.
Based on my background information about the climatic change in the United Kingdom, the climate of the country has been consistently changing over geological time. This information, which major pert of people obtain from journal articles, indicates that current average temperature in the UK is 15C (Turner, Swindles and Roucoux 2014). In comparison with the 19th-century records, the existing temperature is a clear indication of the climate change in the UK and the world as a whole (Vardoulakis et al. 2015). Gosling et al. (2017) state that the atmospheric temperature has attained an increase of 0.8 C. According to Jones and Clark (2014), this increase has been fueled in a few last decades. In addition, the report by 80 authors on the potential impact of climate change on the UK indicates that there are many risks associated with this problem and its projected consequences (Agar, 2015). For example, the bridges interact with other intermediate infrastructure – gas and electricity cables (Gill et al. 2013). When bridges are destroyed by floods, the intermediary infrastructure is also affected (Watts, Hannah & Watkinson, 2015). With this projection, the UK government has been determined enough to take actions to help mitigate the noted risks (Westaway & Younger 2016). Interestingly, people have different attitudes towards these activities.
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The limitation of the amount of carbon dioxide emission by the UK companies and the promotion of environmentally-friendly vehicles are two main actions taken against climate change (Wang et al. 2017). To attain the former, the UK government has formulated a carbon budget (Lockwood 2013). Besides being future-oriented, carbon budget is also economically-friendly (Roder et al. 2014). Most people living in the UK believe that this action is aimed at saving the nation from the projected climate change risk (Trombley, Chalupka & Anderko 2017). Another reason why they may have positive attitude towards this action is its money-saving character (Howard et al. 2016). There is also a section of people who have negative attitude towards this mechanism.
Except carbon budget, a bigger percentage of residents of the UK have positive attitude towards the promotion of the use of hybrid cars. Unlike the conventional vehicles, hybrid cars are environmentally-friendly (Harris et al. 2013). They do not emit bigger amount of gasses that can be harmful to the ozone layer (Bussi et al. 2016). Therefore, after considering the impacts that the climate change demonstrated over the past years, it can be claimed that this strategy is worth investing. Its effectiveness is a key reason why most people have positive attitude towards it. However, it is expensive. Since there are many resources, some of which are not easy to get, that are needed for processing such cars, the costs involved are very high. Therefore, there are many people with a positive attitude towards this action, and there is a relatively small section of people with a negative attitude towards it (Stenhouse et al. 2017). This distinction of the views of people of the actions taken against climate change in the UK makes the study valid. Considering the attitude of the public towards the above-mentioned actions, it is equally important to analyze the views of students (Nordgren 2016). Students are expected to contribute significantly to these actions based on their attitudes. Hence, there are four main hypotheses, which the study outlines. They are the following:
- Students from the developed countries are most likely to be aware of climate change and greenhouse effect.
- Students who read much or like to observe will probably state that the climate change is the outcome of human activities.
- Students who have suffered from climate change are likely to have positive attitude towards the importance of actions taken against it.
- Students who have visited and stayed in a variety of nations both developed and undeveloped are likely to say whether the climate change is a fault of developed nations or developing. For the students who have been only in one country, it will be more difficult.
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The study was aimed at investigating students’ attitudes towards the importance of taking action against climate change. It also aimed to find factors that might influence the attitudes of student’ towards the outlined subject matter.
The participants were fourteen students from London-based university King’s College. Their recruitment was conducted through social media, after which an online questionnaire was used for gathering the targeted data. The questionnaire structure is presented in table one on the appendix page.
A questionnaire consisting of ten questions with different types of responses was availed online. Its structure was based on multiple choices questions, linear scale, and short answers on questions as presented in the appendix page. Each respondent was given the timeframe of 5-10 minutes to have an attempt of all the enquiries. Fortunately, the exercise was successful – no corrections were needed, and all 14 participants performed effectively.
Results and Discussions
Climate Change Awareness
The investigation of students’ awareness of the climate change was essential. Its aim was to gather support for the actions taken against climate change. Based on the results of the study, most of the students are aware of climate change problem. 0.00% of them are unaware of it, and 14.29% are slightly aware. At the same time, 50% of people are aware of the issue while 35.71% are very aware of it. It is presented in the table below.
|Unaware||Slightly aware||Aware||Very aware||Total||Weighted average|
Table 1: Awareness of Climate Change
Most of the students realize the magnitude of climate change. Many respondents (57.14%) became aware of the climate change through getting basic knowledge. It has also brought concern to scholars who have captured it in books and journals. Only 14.29% of respondents do not know where they got the information about climate change; 42.86% and 35.71% are aware of it through academic journals and books respectively as shown in table 2 below.
Ways of acknowledging Information about Climate Change
The information about climate change is presented in various sources. Students often interact with them in their daily life. These sources include books, academic journals, and news articles. Besides, the students live in or originate from the society, which the climate change issue affects. Based on the experience of the students, the results of the study indicate that general knowledge is a main source of information about climate change. 57.14% of students became aware of this problem through receiving general knowledge. Since the UK is a developed country, most students can easily get news. Television and radio are affordable in most homes. Therefore, 64.29% of respondents are aware of climate change due to news. Books and academic journals also serve as major sources of information about climate change and global warming for students. Notably, 35.71% and 42.86% of them became aware of the issue through books and academic journals respectively. Notably, 14.29% of the students were not sure about how they became aware of climate change. This statistics is presented in table 2.
Table 2: Means of Acknowledging Information about Climate Change.
Causes of Climate Change
Long-term shifts in weather conditions characterize climate change in the UK. Changes occur in temperature, winds, precipitation, and other indicators of weather (Tomozeiu & Joss 2014). These changes can derive from both natural and anthropogenic factors. Such natural factors as solar output, orbit of Earth, and changes in volcanic activity influence the amount of energy approaching the earth surface from the sun, hence, causing climate change (Capstick & Pidgeon 2014). However, this influence is minimal (Lorenzoni & Benson 2014). On the other hand, such human activities as the conversion of land for agriculture and forestry also significantly contribute to the climate change (Sozanska-Stanton et al. 2016). Therefore, there are two main causes of climate change: natural and human activities. The bigger percentage of students believes that climate change is man-made. Gases that the UK-based industries release automatically add to the natural greenhouse effect. This situation results into the trapping of bigger amount of energy; hence, it increases the temperature to relatively hostile level (Gouldson & Sullivan 2014). Thus, humans are responsible for creating the stimulators of climate change. According to the study, 0.00% of the participants believe that the climate change in the UK is not caused only by natural factors. However, 21.43% of participants form a section of undecided students. The information is presented in the table below.
|Not sure||7.14% 1|
|Both Man-made and Natural||21.43% 3|
Table 3: Causes of Climate Change.
Contribution of Developed and Developing countries to Climate Change
Recent studies show that both developed and developing nations are responsible for climate change. However, according to certain facts, the developed countries contribute to the climate change more intensively. For instance, it is indicated that the industries of these nations are more developed as compared to that of the developing countries (Partridge et al. 2017). Therefore, the developed countries release greater amount of greenhouse gases per capita. Their citizens also have more vehicles in comparison with people from the developing countries; hence, they produce greater amount of gases that deplete the ozone layer. In line with this fact, most students (42.86%) believe that climate change is a fault of developed countries. Notably, 0.00% of them think that developing countries contribute to the climate change. 53.14% of respondents remain undecided.
Greenhouse gases contribute to warming through water vaporization. The concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere implies minimal change. It persists in the air for only a day, two or at most three. The carbon dioxide (CO2) stays in the atmosphere for much longer time. Scientists claim that this gas can take many years before returning to the pre-industrial level. It imposes a clear picture of warming occurrence in the UK. Concerning students’ awareness of greenhouse effect, it must be said that 78.57% of them know about it, probably, due to its exposure. However, except people who received information about the greenhouse effect from books and other written materials during their academic life, 21.43% of students were not aware of it.
Table 4: Awareness of the greenhouse effect.
Consideration of Actions Taken against Climate Change
Besides being aware of the climate change, only half of the participants have taken actions against it. However, most of them believe that the measures applied for resisting climate change are taken into consideration. It is presented in the bar graph below.
Need for More Actions against Climate Change
Scientists have warned about the consequences of climate change in a few years. Some of these consequences include the reduction of food amount due to drought, casualties due to floods, and the destruction of infrastructure and other properties due to floods (Flachowsky 2016). Therefore, it is important to take more actions against climate change to save humans from these risks (Dhar & Khirfan 2017). Based on the outcome of the study, about 50% of respondents support this statement. These people have also taken actions against climate change. However, 31.71% of the students know that their countries take actions against climate change. It is interesting that equal percentage of people do not affirm that their nations take measures to mitigate climate change while 28.57% of students remained undecided. The pie chart below demonstrates it.
There are a number of limitations that must be acknowledged based on this survey. First, taking only 14 students who are also from a single institution for presenting the general attitude of students from the UK towards the advantages of actions taken against climate change cannot be considered a proper action. There is a number of students from other university within the UK who may have different views regarding the matter. However, they had been exempted from the survey. Second, the categorization of the students who preferred “I don’t know” option becomes difficult due to the fact that it easily attracts the application of assumption measures. Lastly, biasness is another limitation since a number of factors could influence the decisions of the respondents. Therefore, further related research should take these limitations into consideration.
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In conclusion, this study investigated the attitude of students towards the importance of taking actions against climate change in the UK. According to the conducted survey, most of the students are aware of climate change. Similarly, most of them know about greenhouse effect. Generally, the majority of students had positive attitude towards the importance of handling climate change issue. Therefore, they fairly believe that more intense actions should be applied for resolving the problem of climate change. Nevertheless, the survey was associated with limitations and bias; hence, future study should be more detailed and considerate of the influential factors and other related issues. Lastly, a bigger number of students should become aware of climate change and means of preventing it. It will allow eliminating future risks that are associated with climate change.