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US High School Students Do Not Understand Climate Change Issues
Detail: According to a national telephone survey of randomly selected 900 high school students across the US, conducted by Hamilton College economist Julio Videras and his students in partnership with the polling firm Zogby International, the average US high school student believes climate change has no consequences for them in their lifetime despite an increasing emphasis at school and in the media on the causes and effects of global climate change. Hamilton College's Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center and Blue Moon Fund funded the poll, which has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.4 percent.

Some of the findings indicate that students have the same level of knowledge about the issue whether they rely on science class or the media for information. However, studentsí home life influences students' "pro-environment" behavior much more strongly than school. The study further suggests that those who discuss the environment with their friends, informally, are more likely to practice pro-environment behavior, know more about the causes and consequences of climate change, and are 16 percent more likely to believe the U.S. should mandate the reduction of greenhouse gases. Students who learn the most using the Internet do better than the average. Teaching students about climate change outside typical science courses, for example, in a special class dedicated to the natural environment, increases students' knowledge.

In addition to a limited understanding of the science behind climate change, most students don't see themselves at risk: Only 28 percent believe it's very likely that climate change will affect them personally in their lifetimes. Despite these findings, 70 percent think the U.S. should start reducing emissions of pollutants contributing to climate change rather than wait for more evidence about the benefits of reducing greenhouse gases.

The entire poll can be viewed at:

For more information contact:

Julio Videras, assistant professor of economics at Hamilton College, at 315-859-4528 or

Holly Foster, associate director of media relations at Hamilton College, at 315-859-4068 or

Source: Ascribe Newswire and
Date: January 30 2007