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Published on February 4, 2008

Author: Donato

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Older High School Students and Anthropogenic Environmental Degradation: Preliminary Findings and Policy Implications:  Older High School Students and Anthropogenic Environmental Degradation: Preliminary Findings and Policy Implications Nick Shorr Mentor: Baruch Fischhoff HDGC/EPP Feb. 5, 2003 Carnegie Mellon University REU Supplemental Grant: NSF Research Associates:  Research Associates Interviewers/transcribers: Tylesha Drayton Julia Hustwit Vanessa Lobue Aria Thomases Coders/analysts: Ron Avraham Justin Bishop Irene Choi Monica Datta Colleen Gault Betty Kim Khurram Naik Neel Pahlajani Angeline Silver Introduction: why the study:  Introduction: why the study Why civic understanding of environmental issues is a critical question for policy Why older HS students are a critical population in examining civic understanding of environmental issues Why questions of knowledge and efficacy are critical to that understanding Why civic understanding of environmental issues is a critical question for policy :  Why civic understanding of environmental issues is a critical question for policy Civic understanding of environmental issues :  Civic understanding of environmental issues The possibility of common, cultural wisdom Historical Background Mass Society Politics & Rates of Material Consumption Early 20th c elite roots of environmentalism 1960s-70s: grass-roots environmentalism 1970s-present: Professionalization of environmentalism Policy views of ‘the public’ Constituency for policies, programs, funding Responders to, and opposers of ‘(dis)incentives’ Civic environmental concern as fear Discovery of ‘civil society’: funding/promotion of ‘participation’ Indirect importance of civic understanding:  Indirect importance of civic understanding Pro-env government programs Pro-env corporate reforms Pro-env foundation funding Pro-env NGO programs All depend on the continuing monetary input and support of citizens… Env Significant Behaviors:  Env Significant Behaviors ‘Env Activism’: ‘active involvement in env orgs and demonstrations’ Non-activist behavior in the public sphere: ‘Env Citizenship’: ‘voting, writing to officials; signing petitions; joining & contributing to env orgs’ ‘Policy Support’: ‘stated approval of env regs; willingness to pay higher taxes for env protection’ ‘Private sphere behaviors’: ‘Green Consumerism’ HH energy use, processing & waste disposal practices (that a significant portion of env degrad is caused by large institutions…) Why older teenagers are a critical age-group in examining questions of environmental knowledge, values and ‘efficacy’:  Why older teenagers are a critical age-group in examining questions of environmental knowledge, values and ‘efficacy’ Older HS students a critical population in examining civic understanding of environmental issues:  Older HS students a critical population in examining civic understanding of environmental issues They are old enough Cognitive development; Moral development (Piaget, Kohlberg, Ericson) ‘Emergent Adulthood’: building identity, world-view, lifestyle (Arnett) They are what we have in common Education as consistent factor in proenv values and reported behavior Rising tuitions and ‘the forgotten half’ College possibilities and the growth of specialization The fragmentation of the mass media audience They carry weight Youth culture and mass society (Ostrander) The US Baby-boomlet The Ongoing Global Baby-boom Slide10:  Are the young always at the forefront of the environmental frontier? Why questions of knowledge & efficacy are critical to civic understanding of environmental issues :  Why questions of knowledge & efficacy are critical to civic understanding of environmental issues Knowledge and ‘efficacy’ in civic understanding :  Knowledge and ‘efficacy’ in civic understanding From Behaviorism to Humanism in Psychology (recognition of the conscious will): Self-Efficacy (Bandura 1977) Locus of Control (Rotter 1966) Reasoned Action and Planned Behavior (Azjen & Fishbein 1980, 1985) Other psychol variables mediating the will (beyond values and attitudes): --Awareness of Consequences --Perceived Controllability --Domain-specific knowledge Emotions & Appraisal (Frijda, Lazarus, Weiner, Roseman, Smith, Ellsworth, Loewenstein, Lerner, etc, etc.) A policy relevant cluster:  A policy relevant cluster Concerns (what these young people are worried about) Emotions (when thinking abt these concerns) Values (what they care about) Understanding of Causality Proposed Mitigation strategies Social-political assessment and Efficacy How important is any of this stuff to them? Slide14:  Methodology: what we’ve done Semi-structured interviews (May-August) The protocol: skeletal and detailed versions The sample RA’s, training, interviewing, transcribing Coding and Analysis (Sept-Jan) ‘Universal’ Coding> frequency distributions Focal scoring> calculation of correlations Thematic Excerpting> identification of common schemas; assessment of revealed knowledge Writing-up The Protocol:  The Protocol Where have you lived?what was/is it like? What have been your most impt experiences in nature? How is nature doing Around where you live? Around the world? What things that people are doing to nature most bother or trouble you? (freelist concerns) Which the most? (choice: X) When you think about X, how do you feel? (emotions) Why is X bad? (values) How easy/difficult to mitigate X? What are the most important causes for X? (freelist) Which the most? (choice: Y) What are the most effective ways to improve/slow down X? (freelist mitig strategies) Which the most (choice: Z) Who is most responsible for doing Z? How likely/willing/able to do Z are they? How would Z work? (Problems, etc.) Self-appraisal questions Slide16:  Greater Pittsburgh: Greater Access to Nature? Sanguine re degradation? Hilly terrain> local woods Merchant-artistocrat largesse> city parks Mill closings + env regs> much better than ‘the bad old days’ Family continuity w rural pursuits> ongoing family traditions of camping, hunting, fishing… Rel mild economic boom> relatively slow suburban growth Hypothesis: these factors are likely to contribute to more positive assessments of the local present and future of nature than in many other urban-suburban US regions. And, by (over)extension, to more positive assessments of the global present and future of nature than in many other urban-suburban US regions. Coding & Intercoder Reliability:  Coding & Intercoder Reliability Mammoth, sprawling task of coding 127 places in which coders could place codes 45 sets of codes to choose from Number of codes in each set ranged bet 2 to 21. Coders asked to keep track of a total of over 200 different codes! Low Intercoder Reliability: average of 0.362 Emendations to coding Silly mistakes Dropped codes Merged codes Revised average IR of 0.622. Ongoing Loss/Damage:  Ongoing Loss/Damage I: Ok so this problem of development, do you think that its changed since you were a kid? S: I think of merely been more aware of it. I: Do you have a hunch? S: It seems to be more and more development I: And next 20 years? S: Same thing, less forest less farm I: little worse? considerably?  S: Little I: Gradually? S: Yeah not all of a sudden (M17) ** I: Globally, how well do you think nature is doing? S: Uh, I would say, not great. Because I don’t know a lot about it, but kind of from some of… my mom or my brother or my dad looking up from reading the paper… it’s not what I, like, I know emissions from big companies aren’t being controlled as well as they should be and, you know, I’m being redundant, but, like, the cars keep getting bigger and bigger… and like, the strip malls keep going up and things like that…(F17) Ongoing loss/damage:  Ongoing loss/damage I: Have you been there [‘the rainforest’]? S: No, I haven’t, but I like… When I was little, I used to watch the Discovery Channel and my mom would always tape the rainforests whenever there was something on it. She’d always tape it for me because I think it’s so beautiful and I want to go there someday. But, if they keep burning it, then I won’t be able to because it’s going away! [F17] ** [S says he thinks abt env stuff 4x/wk] I: 4 times a week?   S: Well, yeah. I mean, if I have kids, it’s “Is this gonna be here when I have kids?” You know, when they grow up? That’s the thing that probably worries me the most. With the way the world is going, non-nature-wise… [M18] ** I: So pollution is like this big umbrella, it can be a lot of different things, what’s so bad about it? S: Its hurting the world. And everything. It is hurting us. Its hurting the animals, the plants. I: When you say it is hurting us, like how? S: it is taking away…I don’t know. [pause] I don’t know how to word it. I: If you were talking to one of your friends how would you explain how… S: It’s, I don’t want to use destroying because it’s such a harsh word, but its like effecting our future in a way that I don’t want to see the world go. . [F18] Ongoing loss/damage:  Ongoing loss/damage I: And what about all over the world, how do you think Nature is doing now as opposed to when you were a kid? S: I think it’s constantly just getting…like it’s always like, you’re always hearing things about like around the world like rainforests…and things like that being destroyed and…fires because it’s too dry…and pollution…in the water, and oil spills… I: Do you think that’s not just the media? Do you generally have faith that Nature’s really doing OK? Or do you think it’s really in some kind of trouble? Or how do you? S: I don’t think it’s in like danger of like being…wiped out, but it’s definitely harmed, like and every…every year it’s something… …happens, something, constantly it’s like you always hear ‘oh like the ozone layer’, things like that, being destroyed. But I think that it can take it. But we abuse it. [F17] ** Like, it was all woods at one time, now I go up and I see houses. What do you feel when you see this? I see like the animals being dirted out of their homes, stuff like that.   What kind of feeling do you get? Sad feeling, like the loss of something.   Yeah, and angry to or not really angry? I guess a little angry, I mean how would you feel if you were kicked out your house and had no where else to go, mauled up by machines and taken away or something? No, but more sad, you said, right? And do you imagine the same kind of thing in Alaska or Canada, or different? I don’t know, it probably will happen, there’s no where else to go so I can push up there, it seems more open, more free, more nice. [M17] Slide28:  I: Okay. How do you think nature will be doing all over the world 20 years from now, on the same scale? S: Um, [pause]….probably a little worse. I: A little worse? S: Yeah, because probably things like government taking natural resources and things like that. They can only last for so long, like oil and stuff like that.  I: So you think they’ll be depleted a little bit in 20 years? S: Yeah. I: Okay. Are there any things that make you feel optimistic about the way nature is doing, cause you say that it’s only going to change a little bit…are there things that make you feel that… S: Well there’s always people working to make it better… I: Right. S: And even though like…maybe I’m just optimistic because when you go out on the street, its nice out and everything looks beautiful and there’s grass and there’s trees and everything looks really nice. But then in the back of your mind, you know, there’s like less trees, and less oil and less all these other things that you sort of have to think about. So I guess, you know, some of my senses are saying everything’s fine and some are saying, what are you talking about there’s like all of these other big problems to deal with. [F18]   Bleak future:  Bleak future I: how do you think nature around where you live will be ding in twenty years? Will it be on the same track – doing much worse, or much better? Along the way – which direction?   S: its going down hill… its getting considerable worse. I: yeah? What do you foresee in the future? S: building… all buildings, all shopping malls. More roads… I: how does that make you feel when you think about that stuff? 20 S: it sucks. I: yeah. S: yeah – im a nature girl. No one in my fam except for my mom is… its just horrible. I: will it make you move away or will you stay there and just be angry or will you become an enviro activist, or what will that do to you? to your life? S: I’ll probably try and get away from it. id probably move to like… I mean, you can’t really run away from it because it’s happening everywhere. And the places where you want to work, or the things that you want to do… usually you have to move to a big city, you have to live around a big city and big cities have nothing… theres no enviro around there. And so sooner or later everything is just going to be big city. I mean, like… from the future movies we’re all going to be driving around cars and theres going to be like one tree left, you know? Slide30:  Okay…how do you think nature all over the world has changed since you were a child? S: Well I didn’t really pay much attention to it when I was little… I’m sure… S: Um…I would imagine a little worse, just because of there’s more people now, there’s more…like the more people the more destruction of nature, its like, I mean the whole development thing, more development and then you’ve got more poor people too so you have more people living on the street, and more garbage and more pollution…I would just imagine it’s a little worse, just by that. Okay, so what kinds of things make it worse? S: The increase in population basically. But what do more people create? S: Everything, like more development, more garbage, more garbage, more pollution, cause every person saves[sic] their own amount of garbage. [F17] Slide31:  I: Um, how do you think nature will be doing in 20 years?   S: Where I live? I: Where you live, yeah? S: Um, um… I live very close to where they’re building that Mon Valley Expressway junction. So that, in 20 years, whether they have it up or not… it should start to get busier, more cars going up and down my street. My street connects, like Camp Hollow to New England, so it’s a pretty easy way to get to Century III for everybody. It’s a busy street already, but it’ll get a lot worse. I: Ok, so how’s that going to change the life of the neighborhood and the life of buildings there? S: A lot more noise pollution from all the cars. A lot more air pollution. Um. It’ll make things worse—less animals. They’ll be less and less able to deal with all the dirty air, all the noise… disturbing all of them. I: So, how’s that going to affect the general feeling about the place. S: It’ll go down, it won’t be as, I guess, cozy as—I’ll feel good about being home, but whenever the expressway gets there, it’ll really be about getting out of that neighborhood because of all the traffic and other stuff that’s coming… I guess big businesses are—houses are being built where, like, once was a marsh or just woods… that damages it a little bit too, but not as much as a big row of cars traveling in—with the pollution and noise…. * I: What do you think are the biggest influ—biggest causes of, uh, this landfill overflowing, etc?   S: Everything becoming—everything’s just packaged—packaging, there’s just too much material going into sending out products. Not, not enough recycling is going on. So it just keeps piling up and piling up until it becomes an extremely bad problem.   Verbatim emotions:  Verbatim emotions I: Okay. So which of the problems that you did list, you talked about pollution and stuff like that, which one bothers you the most? What gets to you the most?   S: I think that any animal or any species is in danger for reasons of building or construction, or some sort of that kind of thing where they’re leaving their home environment because they’re building something or…that bothers me to think that…that problem bothers me the most that like, the animals are probably being, you know…   I: So I guess that links to pollution too because with the animals in the water. How does that…if you had to use adjectives to describe the way in makes you feel, how does it make you feel when you think about it?   S: Like edgy. Like it’s annoying. It doesn’t anger me to the point where I want to like you know, get up and kill someone.   I: Right.   S: But it angers me enough that it bothers me, you know.   I: Okay.   S: Agitated. Slide37:  I: Ok, so why—what’s so bad about it? I know some of these are very simple basic questions, but on an elementary level, what is bad about air pollution? S: Um, in the long run, it’s gonna hurt everyone. I: How’s it gonna hurt them? S: It’s uh, long term effects. I: What are the long term effects? S: I don’t know exactly, but life span. Everyone wants to live long, hopefully. I: Do you think it changes people’s well being when they are alive? S: Yes. I think it makes them, I don’t know… [pause] I was gonna say I think it makes them appreciate life better, but I don’t know how, so, I’m not going to expand. [M17] Rights of Nature:  Rights of Nature If some of these plants or animals disappeared, why would that be bad? Just because the plants, the animals are part of a food chain, and the food chain would like be harder for other animals to survive if another is extinct or whatever. Why is that bad? Just because theyre animals, theyre part of the world, theyre part of what we see on tv or what is it wrong? Yeah I think so, theyre part of the world, I mean some animals have been here longer than humans have, if someone wanted to kill off the human race everyone would be dead they have a right to be here? Well yeah, with everything that happened now, they’re…I think they do, just because they’ve been there, and if someone tried to move you totally away from and not be connected to anything, then I think you’d have a right to be there because that’s where they are. [F16] Pervasive Blame:  Pervasive Blame And you can just list a few…but again it doesn’t have to be one that some teacher in high school talked about the most, or something that the newsguys…what sticks with you the most?  I think that there’s all these big things that happen. But the most damage is caused probably by daily use…of products and things such as… plastic bags how they get [inaudible] water pollution, and in the air, and aerosol cans. Cars, I mean everyone has a car. And it’s just constant things, like every day that people do it’s what really…it adds up. There’s always the big huge things like the oil spills and the fires, but they don’t do I don’t think nearly as much damage as like people throwing things out the window and constant daily uses of…things. [F17] I: And twenty years from now? S: Probably a 1. You think its jus going to keep getting worse? S: Yeah. Don’t you think? I: I don’t know. I think we can… Well, we’ll talk about what I think at the end, if you want. So how possible do you think it is to seriously slow down the production of nuclear waste? S: I don’t think its really going to slow down, It’s probably gonna get worse because we’re gonna be needing it. We need stuff to build to keep life going, its just gonna get worse. [M17] *** awareness:  awareness I think… and this would be totally impossible, but… if someone had a big screen like you’re in a movie theater, kinda like the science center has a big dome screen thing, and you were able to put people in there and show exactly what they did and how it affected the environment and just how what they did personally hurts the environment and how what they did personally helps the environment… like the good and bad of what you’re doing … the complete affect of it, and that might change them to think like, ok maybe I’ll stop dong this, or I’ll start doing that. But it would have to be like… it would take so long, though. And be so much to do it and then they might… its kinda like a diet, “ok I’m gonna go on a diet” and you start doing it for like two weeks and then you just stop. It might end up being like that, and so… I mean, I cant think of a better way then that to show the complete effect of what it is. [F16] Slide47:  I: So what would you say is the most effective way to solve these problems?  S: Education. I: Mmm hmm…. S: Teaching kids from, at a early age that like…educating them that all of these problems are like constantly happening, and maybe even giving…finding ways and somehow including them in ….like a field trip in fifth grade to clean like, to clean like a…a highway…I never ever got to do that and I always thought it was such a good idea to have the kids like, learn how much litter there is on like…a highway… I: That is a really good idea. S: But like you know, you don’t see that. I was ne – I’m telling you, I was not educated at all in terms of environment. I: Mmm hmmm.  S: I know like nothing when it comes to that area. I: Okay, are there other ways that we can stop this? S: There are. I mean, above education, I think that’s the first thing. I: Well, so when you just talked about distress you said because you don’t feel that you can really stop this, but try to think…is there any way that you can possibly stop this or slow it down or reverse it?   S: Um…I guess like if I were to gain more knowledge about it because I don’t know that much, and sort of if everybody learned about it I’m sure that there are millions of other people that feel the same way I do that its not ok to be doing the things that we are to the environment and that perhaps as a group we would be able to stand up and say our rights, but I kind of feel that just as myself without being with other people, I can say things, but I don’t think that they would really get across. *** S: Well, we could definitely put up brochures, or put up posters, so that people could see…they have a really interesting thing at the zoo in Pittsburgh, where in the monkey house, they have a billboard, but its not really, and its three-dimensional, and as you walk up to it, it’s the forest, but as you walk past, the other side of it, it’s a triangle turns into it being cut down, and then there’s information about it that says how trees are being cut down, and the rainforest is being destroyed, and I think something like that is really meaningful because it shows you what’s happening, instead of somebody just saying this is happening, its not good. I think that if you see something for your own eyes, its makes… it has as more of an impact…:  I: Well, so when you just talked about distress you said because you don’t feel that you can really stop this, but try to think…is there any way that you can possibly stop this or slow it down or reverse it?   S: Um…I guess like if I were to gain more knowledge about it because I don’t know that much, and sort of if everybody learned about it I’m sure that there are millions of other people that feel the same way I do that its not ok to be doing the things that we are to the environment and that perhaps as a group we would be able to stand up and say our rights, but I kind of feel that just as myself without being with other people, I can say things, but I don’t think that they would really get across. *** S: Well, we could definitely put up brochures, or put up posters, so that people could see…they have a really interesting thing at the zoo in Pittsburgh, where in the monkey house, they have a billboard, but its not really, and its three-dimensional, and as you walk up to it, it’s the forest, but as you walk past, the other side of it, it’s a triangle turns into it being cut down, and then there’s information about it that says how trees are being cut down, and the rainforest is being destroyed, and I think something like that is really meaningful because it shows you what’s happening, instead of somebody just saying this is happening, its not good. I think that if you see something for your own eyes, its makes… it has as more of an impact… Slide49:  I: Good. One last question I want to ask you. How important are all these things to you? How closely do you feel to all those problems?   S: Um, probably not as close as I would like to be. Um, I don’t know if that’s because I’m busy doing other things at the moment, or I haven’t put enough, you know I haven’t consciously put enough time into it, or I just don’t know enough to do something. Um, I think they are important though because they do bother me. [F17] Scoring:  Scoring Correlations (Pearson’s r) of scores:  Correlations (Pearson’s r) of scores A different structure of concern and mitigation?:  A different structure of concern and mitigation? Policy Implications:  Policy Implications If it is true that 1) the great majority of US citizens remain sincerely concerned about anthropogenic environmental degradation; and that 2) a pivotal barrier to more widespread, lifelong commitment to pro-environmental behaviors is a lack of knowledge, specifically abt A) the specific causes of ongoing env degradation B) the specific env consequences of particular everyday acts; C) specific alternative behaviors w substantially reduced negative env impacts, Then it follows that … Slide54:  A much greater portion of federal funding (Environmental, Educational and Scientific) should be allocated to gathering these types of knowledge and disseminating them as widely as possible. Life-cycle Analysis Ecological Footprint Chain-of-Custody; Accountability; Labeling (the importance of disaggregation) Federal policies & legislation should expedite this wide dissemination, and overcome limits to it. Federal and State policies should integrate the collection and distribution of these types of knowledge as a central component to secondary school curriculum. Federal and State policies should challenge and assist students and other citizens to participate in this collection and distribution of critical knowledge. Limits to Good Intentions?:  Limits to Good Intentions? 1) that most environmental degradation is not caused by ‘anti-environmental’ values; 2) that having ‘pro-environmental values’ is not of itself a guarantee that a) one will (consistently) take pro-environmental actions nor b) that the actions one will take on behalf of the environment will be the ones with the greatest positive impact, of all the ones that might have been taken; and 3) that a significant portion of environmental degradation is caused by institutions rather than individual consumers or households directly. [Stern et al 2000] Slide56:  The most important thing that policy-makers can do is to assist in a) making the actions of those who are motivated to behave in pro-env behaviors of maximum effectiveness towards mitigation; b) making the effectiveness of those actions more widely known. Slide57:  That emotions may well be necessary for the will to become engaged, to act, to choose, to change behaviors and habits. That emotions can also overwhelm and lead to avoidance. That knowledge is necessary for the engagement of the will to have the intended effects on and in the world Late adolescents as mirrors:  Late adolescents as mirrors Examining the state of concern and knowledge of older adolescents allows us to A) assess those states B) gain a sense of the bases upon which they may build any further active concern C) assess our own society’s socialization of our youth Ongoing analysis; future research & extension :  Ongoing analysis; future research & extension Excerpting + expert consultation> assessment of revealed knowledge Excerpting>construction of mental models >Construction of survey Writing HS visits (Mar-May): Intro; Survey; Interviews Presentation of findings-so-far; Discussion Textbook analysis; Standards analysis; teacher interviews; media analysis Radio documentary? National interviews & survey? Slide60:  Excerpt Plunking Coding & Scoring Identification Of common (mis)understandings Construction Of Survey Tests of Correlation Construction of mental models HS iv’s, Survey & Presentations Distribution of concerns, knowledge, efficacy, etc.

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