UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA UNDERGRADUATES’ KNOWLEDGE OF AND ATTITUDE TO CLIMATE CHANGE

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ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to find out the University of Nigeria undergraduates’ level of knowledge of and attitude to climate change. Thirteen specific objectives with their corresponding research questions and three null hypotheses guided the study. Cross-sectional survey research design was employed for the study. The population for the study consisted of 21907 regular undergraduates during the 2010/2011 academic session. Multi-stage sampling procedure was used to draw a sample of 960 undergraduates (582 males and 378 females). A 21-item questionnaire (UKAC) designed by the researcher was the instrument used for data collection. The research questions were answered using percentages and mean. The null hypotheses were tested using ANOVA and t-test statistics. The major findings were: the undergraduates had high level of knowledge of meaning (64.55%); causes (63.46%) and prevention (62.43%) of climate change. They had moderate level of knowledge of the effects of climate change (57.50%). Gender did not influence the undergraduates’ level of knowledge of climate change as both male and female undergraduates have high level of knowledge of climate change. Year of study influenced the level of knowledge of climate change. The knowledge increased as the undergraduates progressed from first year to final year. The knowledge of climate change among the undergraduates varied from department to department with the departments under faculties of Agriculture and Engineering rating the highest. The undergraduates showed positive attitude to the causes, effects, and prevention of climate change ( > 2.5) irrespective of their gender, year of study and course of study. There was statistically significant difference in the level of knowledge of climate change based on year of study. The hypothesis of no statistically significant difference in the undergraduates’ attitude to climate change based on gender was accepted. There was a significant difference in the level of knowledge of climate change among the undergraduates in relation to their course of study. From the findings, it was concluded that the undergraduates had high level of knowledge of climate change and it was recommended that the university should intensify efforts in making climate change a cross-disciplinary programme.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page
Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Appendices
Abstract

CHAPTER ONE: Introduction
Background to the Study
Statement of the Problem
Purpose of the Study
Research Questions
Hypotheses
Significance of the Study
Scope of the Study

CHAPTER TWO: Review of Related Literature
Conceptual Framework
•           The concept of climate change; university undergraduate; knowledge and attitude
•           Measurement of knowledge and attitude
•  Causes of climate change
•  Effects of climate change
•           Prevention of climate change
•  Demographic factors associated with knowledge of and attitude to climate change
Theoretical Framework
•           Affective cognitive consistency theory (ACCT)
•           Epistemology theory
•           Functional theory
Empirical Studies on Knowledge of and Attitude to Climate Change
Summary of Literature Review

CHAPTER THREE: Methods
Research Design
Area of the Study
Population for the Study
Sample and Sampling Techniques
Instrument for Data Collection
•           Validity of the instrument
•           Reliability of the instrument
Method of Data Collection
Method of Data Analysis

CHAPTER FOUR: Result and Discussion of Findings
Results
Discussion
•  Undergraduates’ level of knowledge of climate change
•  Undergraduates’ attitude to causes of climate change

CHAPTER FIVE: Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations
Summary
Conclusions
Recommendations
Suggestion for Further Studies
References
Appendices

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction
Background to the Study

Climate change is the most pervasive environmental issue which has become a global scourge owing to its far-reaching deleterious effects on environment, biodiversity as well as on health of animal and human species (The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, 1996) including the undergraduates of University of Nigeria, Nsukka. According to Custom Writings (2008), climate change threatens the health of the earth’s inhabitants and the world’s economies every day and this is why D’Silva (2011) noted that there has been a hue and cry about climate change ever since the idea was first put forward.
IPCC (1996) warned that the impacts of climate change on environmental stability and life on earth are better imagined than experienced. They include changes in the global climate and the consequent disruption in the temporal and spatial distribution of temperature, precipitation, evapo-transpiration, clouds and air currents as well as the consequent shift in the vegetational belts; melting of the polar ice-caps; rise in sea level which could adversely affect low-lying areas and the synergy among these discrete effects. Each of the above has implications for fresh water resources, agriculture and food supply, natural ecosystems, biodiversity as well as human and animal health (IPCC, 1996).
Climate change is accompanied with longer and more intense heat waves, storms and more pests which in turn can carry devastating diseases (Gille, 2002). Climate Change Science Programme, CCSP (2008) noted that changing climate has led to more widespread of diseases and deaths due to malaria. According Stanford Solar Center, SSC (2008), climate change will result in the spreading of certain diseases such as malaria, the flooding of major cities, a greater risk of heat stroke for individuals and poor air quality. CCSP (2008) observed that the increase in the number and intensity of hurricanes and typhoons in America and Japan, the rapid melting of polar ice, floods in the south of Asia, twenty years of drought in Somalia, the unexpected damage caused by forest fires in Australia among others have led to thousands of casualties as well as loss of billions of dollars in financial value.
At its core, Health Education functions to bring the message of this debacle to bear in the minds of the general public. Promoting public health through Health Education means seeking to advance good health outcomes and usually more pressingly, to avoid bad health outcomes such as those which come with the climate changes (Beauchamp & Steinbock, 1999). As Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change with the least intellectual, institutional and technological capability to address it (Ozor, 2010), health educators express worry if the wealthier countries will accept to take up more responsibilities of addressing the scourge of climate change than the less fortunate others as enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol (Beauchamp & Steinbock, 1999).
This is especially when the industrialized countries are the major contributors of climate change (Ozor, 2010). However, the issue of climate change, as noted before, is a global scourge and to prevent it, there is need for all people including the university undergraduates to understand the meaning and consequences of climate change.
Climate Change, according to Encarta (2009) is a long-term alteration in global weather patterns, especially increases in temperature and storm activity, regarded as a potential consequence of the green house effect. CCSP (2008) stated that climate change refers to the earth’s air and ocean gradually heating up to a point that disrupts balance in human and natural resources. The above definitions show that the earth’s temperature is rising leading to disruption of the earth’s ecosystem. A global coverage of satellite-derived atmospheric temperatures is now available for 22 years, revealing that the earth is warming (Foster, 2000). This accounts for why most studies on the subject refer to climate change as global warming. In this study, Climate Change and global warming was used interchangeably to mean the increase above the normal temperature of the earth (as a result of accumulation of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere) leading to disaster like hurricanes, more thunder-related deaths and destructions, droughts, flood, diseases and other inconveniences to man (including the undergraduates of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka).
Green House Gases (GHGs) have been shown as the culprit of climate change although, D’Silva (2011) remarked that climatic conditions may also vary due to natural circumstances such as volcanic eruptions and solar activities (solar variation and orbital forcing). Timeforchange (2011) noted that almost 100 per cent of the observed temperature increase over the last 50 years has been due to the increase of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and the largest contributing source is anthropogenic activities. Anthropogenic activities in this study are the sum total of human activities such as burning of fossil fuel, deforestation, oil flaring, application of agro-chemicals, over-grazing among others which affect climate by unleashing volumes of greenhouse gases into the earth’s atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gaseous components in the atmosphere that contribute to the heating of the earth by means of a similar effect produced by the glass panes of a greenhouse (D’Silva, 2011). They are any of the atmospheric gases according to Mifflin (2009), which contribute to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation produced by solar warming of the earth's surface. The term greenhouse gases (GHGs) according to Buzzle (2011) is used to refer to the gases present in the atmosphere which absorb the radiation and emit them within the thermal infrared range. This process is termed greenhouse effect. It increases the global temperature leading to a phenomenon called global warming (Wallace, 2008 and Wikipaedia, 2010). The GHGs are water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, ground level ozone, chlorofluorocarbons nitrous oxide, aerosols among others (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, UNCED, 1992; IPCC, 2007; Wallace, 2008; Microsoft Encarta, 2009; Lindinger & Kunzemann, 2010; Buzzle, 2011). Because these greenhouse gases are good absorbers of heat radiation coming from the Earth's surface, they act like a blanket over the Earth's surface, keeping it warmer than it otherwise would have been. Their accumulation would accelerate the warming effect beyond acceptable levels. If current trends in anthropogenic GHG emissions continue through 2030, the earth will experience an average rise in temperature ranging from 34.7 to 40.1o F (1.5 to 4.5o C) (Porter & Brown, 1991). The operational definition of GHG in this study was the one given by Encarta (2009) thus: greenhouse gases are gases that contribute to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere by reflecting radiation from the earth’s surface.
IPCC (1996) and United States Environmental Protection Authority (USEPA, 2011) noted that there have been series of international conventions (Vienna Convention in 1985, Montreal Protocol in 1987, Rio Declaration in 1992, Kyoto Protocol in 1997, Buenos Aires Climate Summit in 1998, Marrakesh Agreement in 2001, Bali Climate Change Conference in 2007, Ponzan Climate Conference in 2008, Weather Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009 among others) which have been working to reduce emissions. Regrettably, lack of a strong collaboration among nations results to ever increasing emission of these gases. For instance, Ikeme (2001) noted that Nigeria government finds it difficult to embrace global policy to mitigate global warming because her economy remains dependent on fossil fuels. This is particularly worrisome because fossil fuels are the chief culprit implicated in the environmental issue of climate change phenomenon. Cullis......

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