Do university students actually care about climate change? And are they doing anything to stop it?
Concerned by apparent contradiction in the behavior of my student colleagues, I took the initiative to address the issue and carried out research to try and understand students' reaction to the statement, "Oh No! Not Climate Change Again!".
I conducted a survey of 200 students at the University of Westminster, which revealed that the majority of students are turning away from information on climate change.
The survey also shows that 45% of students say that they are not doing anything to stop climate change. Yet the numbers also show that more than 80% of the participants say that they know about the impact of climate change.
Although this is a welcome number, I believe that a large number of students are not concerned with slowing climate change. Based on observation, students' behavior still shows ignorance about the issue. It is an unpleasant sight looking at a recycling bin filled with non-recyclable items. Furthermore even the simple act of turning off a power socket seems to be a daunting task for students as many of them never turn off the switches after using them.
Fellow University of Westminster student, Beatrice Meloni, expressed her thoughts on the lack of students' attention to climate change. She said, "We students have been bombarded with information on climate change since an early age and it is always something that we believe in theory but do not always create action towards it".
Dr. Lorraine Whitmarsh, a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Psychology at Cardiff University and a visiting fellow at the Tyndall Centre of Climate Change Research said, "It is true that students today can identify the impact of climate change for example the melting of ice and the rise of sea level, however, the issue remains uncertain for many students and some are skeptical about climate change."
One of the reasons behind this is students have different issues to care about and rarely prioritise environmental issues. When communicated as 'bad news', its particularly difficult to get people to pay attention said Dr. Lorraine.
Experts suggest behavior changes that students can make in particular are simply to switch off any appliances when not in use, take shorter showers, fill the kettle only with the amount needed, take public transport cycling instead of driving, and cut down on flying.
With all that being said, significant numbers of students say they do care about climate change. It is essential that students should not wait for it to affect them first instead act now to slow it down. As we (students) are set to be leaders of tomorrow this issue should be taken seriously to prevent greater impact of climate disaster.