Global Warming/Climate Change Project. Student Researchers

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1 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Global Warming/Climate Change Project A Survey of Middle & High School Students Student Researchers Mahmoud Ahmed, Elora Leene, Emy Marier, Wesley Meives and Daniel Putman Faculty Mentor Dr. Eric Jamelske University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Overview Background Past Research Motivation Survey and Sample Results Conclusion/Implications Questions/Discussion 1

2 IPCC AR4: A State of the Planet Report Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level. Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years. There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming. Advances since the TAR show that discernible human influences extend beyond average temperature to other aspects of climate. Anthropogenic warming over the last three decades has likely had a discernible influence at the global scale on observed changes in many physical and biological systems. Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the time scales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if GHG concentrations were to be stabilized. 2

3 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Scientific Consensus on Climate Change Reviews of scientific literature and surveys of climate scientists indicate striking agreement, anthropogenic GHG have been responsible for most of the unequivocal warming of the Earth s average global temperature over the second half of the 20th century. - Anderegg et al. (2010) Despite claims sometimes made by some groups that there is not good evidence that Earth's climate is being affected by human activities, the scientific community is in overwhelming agreement that such evidence is clear and persuasive. - Oreskes (2004) 3

4 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Pew Research Center (2008) Dunlap and McCright (2008) Feldman et al. (2010) Rabe and Borick (2010) Villar and Krosnik. (2010) Leiserowitz et al. (2011) Jamelske, Barrett and Boulter (2012) Previous Research Majority of Americans believe CC/GW is real, but less support for anthropogenic causes Confusion about science and disengagement from policy, political divide 4

5 A flash point has emerged in American science education that echoes the battle over evolution, as scientists and educators report mounting resistance to the study of man-made climate change in middle and high schools. Although scientific evidence increasingly shows that fossil fuel consumption has caused the climate to change rapidly, the issue has grown so politicized that skepticism of the broad scientific consensus has seeped into classrooms. Tribune Washington Bureau, Sacramento Bee, 1/17/2012 Our Survey What do middle/high school children think about CC/GW? Is it happening? Is it anthropogenic? What does science say? Level of risk/concern? What are the impacts? Sources of learning/information? Yale/George Mason Project on Climate Change Communication* 5

6 27 Different Schools 48 Different Teachers 24 Different Courses Our Sample 89 Different Classes (some with multiple sections) 4 Survey Waves Wave 1 = October 2012 Wave 2 = November 2012 Wave 3 = January/February 2013 Wave 4 = February/March ,695 Middle and high school students from across Wisconsin Convenience sample, university connections, science classes Sample size varies due to non-response on some questions Our Sample 6

7 Our Sample University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Initial Statement Recently, you may have noticed that global warming has been getting some attention in the news. Global warming refers to the idea that the world s average temperature has been increasing over the past 150 years, may be increasing more in the future, and the world s climate may change as a result. 7

8 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Results A Preliminary Look at the Data Is Global Warming Happening? What is Causing Global Warming? 8

9 Is Global Warming Happening? (View of Science) What is Causing Global Warming? (View of Science) University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Conclusion Just over 70% of middle/high school students think CC/GW is happening, but less than 60% say causes are primarily human About 15% are unsure if anthropogenic CC/GW is real Just over 30% of middle/high school students believe climate scientists are in disagreement regarding CC/GW and its causes Almost 25% are unsure if there is scientific agreement or disagreement on the issue of anthropogenic CC/GW 9

10 (% YES) What Events Have Been Affected by Global Warming? P < 0.01, Grades 8, 9, 10 P < 0.01, Grades 8, 9, 10 P < 0.01, Grades 8, 9, 10 How Much Risk of Harm Does Global Warming Pose to Humans? How Concerned Are You About Global Warming? 10

11 11

12 Estimates assess damage at nearly $75 billion. At least 285 people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Conclusion More than 80% of middle/high school students believe CC/GW is affecting melting ice caps Almost 70% believe sea level rise has been impacted by CC/GW Over 50% of Middle/high school students also report impacts from CC/GW on droughts, wild fires and floods. Only 45% believe hurricanes have been affected by CC/GW Nearly 30% say volcanoes and earthquakes have been impacted 12

13 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Conclusion Nearly 25% of middle/high school students say there is a lot of risk of harm to humans from CC/GW Some risk was the modal response, but almost 20% see no risk 18% reported being very or extremely concerned about CC/GW Somewhat concerned was the most frequent response More than 35% are not very or not at all concerned Overall risk maps reasonably well into concern (Weighted Average) What Are the 3 Most Important Issues for Society? 13

14 (Weighted Average) What Are the 3 Most Important Environmental Issues? Where Have You Learned About Global Warming? 14

15 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Conclusion In a weighted average calculation of the top three issues for society the economy garnered almost 18% of available points The environment, education and national debt were next at 12.8%, 12.6% and 11.3% respectively A similar calculation of the top three environmental issues air pollution received more than 20% of available points Global warming, water pollution and deforestation were next at 15.9%, 14.6% and 10.4% respectively University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Conclusion Almost 70% of middle/high school students say they have learned some or a lot about CC/GW in school The internet (54.8%), television (44.6%) and friends and family (34.0%) are the next most common sources of learning Just over 25% say they have learned some or a lot about CC/GW from scholarly research Less than 20% have learned some or a lot from government agencies 15

16 Learning About CC/GW in School by Grade Comparing Responses by Grade 16

17 Comparing Responses by Grade More on Risk and Concern

18 Regression Analysis: Factors Influencing Perceived Risk of Harm from CC/GW Risk = 1-6 (continuous) Happen dummy -yes = 1 Grade dummies -6 th grade omitted Gender dummy -male = 1 School = 1-4 (continuous) Cover = 1-4 (continuous) Survey wave dummies -wave 1 omitted Regression Analysis: Factors Influencing Perceived Concern Regarding CC/GW Concern = 1-5 (continuous) Happen dummy -yes = 1 Risk = 1-6 (continuous) Grade dummies -6 th grade omitted Gender dummy -male = 1 School = 1-4 (continuous) Cover = 1-4 (continuous) Survey wave dummies -wave 1 omitted 18

19 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Conclusion Belief that CC/GW is happening is positively correlated with perceived risk of harm to humans from CC/GW 9 th, 10 th and 11 th graders see more risk (compared to sixth graders) Males see less risk (compared to females) Learning about CC/GW in school and coverage in survey class is positively correlated with perceived risk Timing of survey (wave) is not statistically significant University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Conclusion Belief that CC/GW is happening and seeing risk of harm are both positively correlated with perceived concern about CC/GW All higher grades are less concerned (compared to sixth graders) Males are less concerned (compared to females) Learning about CC/GW in school and coverage in survey class is positively correlated with CC/GW concern Timing of survey (wave) is not statistically significant 19

20 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Conclusion Learning about CC/GW in school does make a difference There is still a great deal of misinformation and uncertainty We have a long way to go in terms of meeting the challenges of climate change education Media, special interests, distractions and politics make it complicated We must do this! This is OUR PLANET and OUR FUTURE! University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Education/Action & Implications What should schools teach about CC/GW? When should our children be taught about CC/GW? Who will determine the curriculum? National Center for Science Education Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education BP, Exxon, Coal, Americans for Prosperity, The Heritage Foundation 20

21 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Valid Resource/Information Sources Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) World Bank 21

22 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Future Work More surveys across grades 6-12 Student focus groups Science teacher surveys and focus groups More thorough analysis of CC/GW coverage in science classes Continued CC/GW Public opinion surveys of college students and adults in both the US and China University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Questions/Discussion 22

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