AN EXAMINATION OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENT’S KNOWLEDGE AND ATTITUDE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Climate is the most important element in determining worldwide patterns of vegetation shape, productivity, and the makeup of plant and animal species on a global scale. Climate refers to the average weather conditions in a location over a long period of time. While the weather might change in a matter of hours, climate change can take years to occur. The average weather for a given location over an extended period of time, according to Small and Nicholis (2003), is referred to as the climate. It is used to define the totality of all weather that occurs in a certain location over a lengthy period of time. Included in this are ordinary weather conditions, the usual weather season (winter/spring/summer/fall), and exceptional weather occurrences (such as tornadoes) (like tornadoes and floods). This variability in climate has a significant impact on the evolution of natural ecosystems, as well as the human economic and cultural systems that rely on them.
When we talk about climate change, we are talking about average seasonal change over a long period of time. Climate change, according to Igwe (2003), is defined as the fluctuation in global or regional climates across time. Changes in the atmosphere across time periods ranging from a few decades to thousands of years are seen in this graph. According to Nzewi (2009), climate change is defined as a demonstrable rise in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, seas, and landmasses over a period of time. Climate change, according to Ezeudu (2009), is defined as a long-term substantial shift in the average weather conditions that a certain area experiences. As indicated by Nwagu & Nzewi (2009), climate change is defined as a major shift in weather (including wind, precipitation, and temperature) over an extended period of time (over 100 years). As Udenyi (2010) pointed out, global climate change is simply a change in the climatic condition of the globe, and if the change is judged to be on the increasing line by scientists and other relevant authorities, it is referred to as climate change. In the context of this research, climate change is defined as a substantial and observable shift in the global temperature, which is assumed to be on the rise rather than the decline. The climate of the Earth is dynamic and constantly changing as a result of a natural cycle. In any case, what the world is most concerned about is the fact that the changes taking place now are happening faster than they were before due of human activity (Okebukola & Akpan 2009). In a similar vein, Uzochi (2009a) observed that humans have been altering their environment in significant ways ever since they learned how to hunt with weapons, domesticate animals, and farm crops. In addition, humans have modernized transportation and industrial systems, which allow for more convenient movement and manufacturing.
As a consequence of the excessive release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere, these human activities have a negative influence on climate change. According to Sjoberg (2002), greenhouse gases are those gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect by collecting infrared light and releasing it into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, methane, chloroflorocarbon, water vapour, and nitrous oxide are some of the gases that are produced. According to Igwe (2003), a greenhouse gas is defined as a gas in the atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation in the thermal infrared spectrum. As a result of this process, the greenhouse effect is a primary contributor. The greenhouse effect is the increase in temperature that the earth experiences as a result of certain gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour, nitrous oxide, and chloroflorocarbon trapping and retaining more energy from the sun. This has resulted in the warming and changing of the global climate that we are currently experiencing.
Furthermore, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere resulted in the depletion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere. The ozone layer, which is situated in the stratosphere, is a thin screen that protects the earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. In addition, it shields earth’s life from the sun’s very damaging radiation. Beginning in the 1980s, scientists started to uncover evidence that the ozone layer was either disappearing or being depleted. In addition, the ozone depletion permits more ultra-violent radiation to reach the earth’s surface, speeding up the pace at which the global climate is changing over time. As the pace of climate change continues to accelerate, it will have serious repercussions such as desertification, droughts, temperature rises, poor agricultural yields, drying up of water bodies, and floods, among other things. (2011); (Oruonye, 2011). Similarly, Igwebuike, Odoh, Ezeugwu, Okparaku, and Opkaraku (2009) itemized the consequences of climate change, which included melting of polar ice, which might result in a rise in sea level, as well as other factors. The rising sea level has the potential to produce flooding disasters (which can wash away farmland and crops, in addition to rendering the affected people homeless). According to Ekezie (2010), an increase in temperature as a result of climate change could result in drought, desertification, a decline in water table, the extinction of some plant and animal species, a decrease in crop yield, and the outbreak of climate-related diseases such as malaria and meningitis, among other things. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007), the repercussions of climate change might last for a longer period of time as a result of our continued release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In light of the foregoing, Omotosho (2007), Ishaya & Obaja (2008), Anyadike (2009), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2010) have argued that human continual perpetuation of acts that cause excessive emission of greenhouse gases, such as bush burning, indiscriminate cutting down of trees (deforestation), constant burning of fossil fuel, and other activities, is dependent on the extent to which they are aware that their activities contribute to climate change, among other
Awareness, according to Oragwam (2004), is a state of consciousness with a specific goal. The situation of being aware of and able to comprehend what is going on in one’s environment, according to Chinedu (2008), is defined as awareness. Awareness is the condition or capacity to observe, experience, or be cognizant of events, objects, or sensory patterns. It is sometimes referred to as “consciousness.” The concept of awareness refers to the concept of being aware of the presence of something. In accordance with the foregoing viewpoints, Wikipedia (2009) defines awareness as having knowledge of, understanding of, appreciation of, recognition of, attention to, perception of, conscious of, acquaintance with, enlightenment with, mindfulness of, cognizance of, or awareness of something in general. The awareness described by Belloti (2002) includes recognizing who is chatting with whom and providing a perspective of one another in one’s everyday work environment; this is known as social awareness. In the context of this research, however, and in connection to the foregoing points of view, awareness involves comprehension and knowledge of the actions and events (such as climate change) that are taking place in one’s immediate surroundings. This information and awareness had a significant impact on one’s attitude toward such events (or events in one’s surroundings) to a significant level.
According to Abini (2006), attitude is a learned propensity that may be acquired. Abini went on to explain that pupils’ attitudes are formed via feelings of liking or disliking, or being favourable or unfavourable. Williams (2000) described attitude as a person’s willingness to perform in a certain manner, which may be shown by their words, gestures, or facial expression. One’s activity is bolstered by one’s facial expression, the way one acts and shows his or her opinions about the subject matter, according to this viewpoint. The attitude of a person, according to Good (2001), is a state of mental and emotional preparedness to respond to stimuli that have been previously conditioned or connected with them As defined by Kent (2002), attitude is a mental and natural state of readiness that has been structured through experiences and that has a directive or dynamic impact on the individual’s reactions to all objects and situations with which it comes into contact. To put it another way, according to the description above, attitude refers to the way a person feels or behaves toward a certain topic or situation. As a result, the term “climate change attitude” refers to the manner in which a person thinks and acts in relation to the subject of global climate change. It refers to the sentiments and worries that a person may have about climate change in general. Aiming to raise students’ understanding of and attitudes concerning climate change in secondary schools, in response to the above talks has been attempted. Most secondary school subjects such as Geography, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Agriculture and Social Studies were infused with climate and general environmental related content such as our environment, the physical environment, sanitation pollution, natural and manmade environmental hazards such as deforestation, population, the effects of industrial concentration, the composition of atmospheric gases, weather and climate, classification of climate, and the major climate types of the world, to name a few examples. Secondary school pupils in Nigeria can benefit greatly from these topics and materials, which will help them become more conscious of and accepting of climate change. For example, Ishaya and Obaja (2008) pointed out that secondary school teachers have been inculcating climate change content into their respective subjects in order to increase students’ knowledge and attitudes about climate change while also influencing their attitudes in favor of resolving climate change problems. According to Againde (2006), schools are making an attempt to raise awareness about important environmental challenges such as climate change via classroom education and activities. Similar to this, Chinedu (2008) and Ofoebe (2009) both agreed that the curriculum material of most secondary school topics may be utilized to successfully raise awareness of environmental concerns and foster a constructive attitude toward resolving the environmental problems. According to preliminary findings, despite the efforts made via school curriculum to raise understanding and attitudes toward environmental challenges, notably climate change, the program does not seem to be accomplishing its objectives. Due to the fact that people (including those who went through the instructional program in school) appear to have continued perpetuating actions such as bush burning, deforestation, and the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline, coal, and crude oil, all of which contribute to climate change, this is the case. However, it is important to highlight that, so long as human activities that contribute to climate change continue, the repercussions of climate change will continue to confront human beings on the planet. Consequently, it is necessary to establish the degree to which instructional delivery in schools via the use of an infusion technique has increased students’ understanding of and attitudes regarding global warming.
When measuring students’ levels of knowledge and attitudes about climate change, it is necessary to take into account the effect of gender and geographic location on students’ levels of awareness and attitudes toward climate change. According to Lee (2001), gender is an attributed characteristic that socially distinguishes between the feminine and the masculine. Gender is defined as the classification of matter into sexe in the universe of matter. Per Kalusi (2000, p. 21), gender is a cultural construction that assigns duties, attitudes, and values that are regarded proper for each gender according to society. Ekeh (2000) pointed out that gender entails the characteristics of being male or female, man or woman, boy or girl, among others. Robert (2007) described gender as a social construct that is not dictated by biology, but rather as a notion that is comparable to race or social class. Gender, according to Offorma (2004), is a learnt socially constructed state that is attributed to males and females. The author went on to say that gender is reinforced via cultural practices since gender identity is the result of cultural learning. As a result, the expectations placed on men and women are based on their cultural millieous, according to Offorma.
It is possible that these expectations will have an impact on how individuals view environmental challenges such as climate change. Ekezie (2010), in his consideration of gender and environmental interactions, emphasized the importance of gender as a variable in environmental debate. A study conducted by Ekezie (2010) found that females seem to be more connected to nature than their male counterparts in the sense that they rely on forest resources for food production and the provision of fuel wood for cooking. Chinedu (2008), on the other hand, observed that females had a more positive relationship with their surroundings than their male counterparts. That is, females primarily engaged the environment for agricultural purposes, whereas males engaged the environment for a variety of more serious purposes such as felling forest trees for timber, clearing forest for road construction, construction of houses and factories, and a variety of other activities. Given the foregoing viewpoints, Ofoebe (2009) advocated for the inclusion of gender differences or physiological differences between males and females in environmental sensitization programs both inside and outside of schools. These differences are obvious and expected to influence the ways in which both sexes respond to environmental issues such as climate change. The different ways males and females are socialized tend to determine their environmental exploration, degree of environmental manipulation, and overall relationship with the environment, including their general awareness and attitude toward environmental problems such as climate change, according to Oruonye (2011). According to this, among other things, the current research attempted to evaluate if gender had an impact on students’ understanding of and attitudes about climate change as a unique environmental concern. Conclusions In contrast, the geographical location of people may have an impact on their knowledge of and attitude toward climate change. According to Benton (2000), a geographical location or an area is defined as follows: According to Ogunniyi (2008), location may also refer to a settlement, whether it is a hamlet, town, or city, which is generally inhabited by human people. According to Igwe (2003), a location is defined as a place where something or someone dwells in the world. When we talk about location in the context of this research, we are referring to a geographical location or region where someone or something is located. It might be in a rural or urban setting, depending on the situation. When it comes to villages, rural regions are typically made up of small settlements that are scattered, nucleated, or even linear in their pattern of distribution on the land, with few structures and a small population. It provides its residents with a calm and peaceful way of life. The majority of their economic activity is farming, and they have limited amenities and service facilities. Consequently, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2010), the level of climate change knowledge and attitude among Nigerian rural residents is directly related to the amount and quality of information that is accessible to them. Urban areas are defined as places of generally substantial size, density, and permanent settlement of persons from a variety of social backgrounds. It might be a town, a city, a conurbation, or a metropolitan area. A few characteristics of urban areas are that they have a large and heterogeneous population, medical and political facilities as well as educational and recreational opportunities, banking and administrative services, and social activities. They also have highly developed manpower (both male and female), artisans and other people who work in non-agricultural occupations, as well as highly impersonal relations. It is the polar opposite of rural regions, with its sophisticated way of life and way of going about one’s business.
Due to the foregoing gap between urban and rural regions, it is possible that their understanding and attitude towards climate change would be affected. As a result of this assumption, Nicholis and Small (2003) said that the location of people’s homes (their geographic location) determines the amount of information and knowledge that reaches them, especially in developing nations like Nigeria. Despite this, Agiande (2006) discovered in a research conducted in Calabar that pupils’ understanding of environmental concerns is no longer hindered by their geographical location (like climate change). In a research conducted in Kaduna, Ishaya and Obaje (2008) discovered that pupils’ understanding of the challenges of climate change is not significantly influenced by their geographical location. The purpose of this research is to evaluate if students’ knowledge and attitudes concerning climate change are influenced by their geographical location. In fact, just a few research have been conducted to evaluate whether or not students are aware of and have an attitude toward climate change. The perceptions of indigenous people about climate change, as well as adaption measures at senior secondary schools in Kaduna State’s Jema Local Government Area, were investigated by Ishaya and Abaje (2008). According to the findings of the research, the pupils had a low level of awareness and a negative attitude about climate change. Using pupils in the Jalingo Metropolis of Tabara State, Oruonye (2011) conducted an evaluation of their degree of knowledge about the implications of climate change. According to the findings of the research, the students who participated in the survey were not aware of climate change and had a negative attitude about climate change as well. Also in Okigwe Education Zone, Imo State, relevant studies have been conducted on environmental education awareness and attitude of students by Ofoebe (2009), Chinedu (2008), and Agiande (2006) in order to better understand their perceptions and attitudes toward the environment. Owerri Education Zone is located in the state of Imo. Ogoja Education Zone and Cross River State, to name a few of places. As a result, the current state of secondary school pupils’ understanding and attitude about climate change is described.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
At the moment, one of the most serious worldwide problems is the inherent threat of global climate change. For the first time in Nigeria, the effects of climate change are beginning to present themselves in the form of desertification, drought, temperature increase, poor agricultural production, drying up of water bodies, and floods, among other things. In order to mitigate the effects of climate change, climate-related coursework has been included into the curriculum of almost all secondary schools. The goal of this infusion method was to raise awareness of environmental concerns such as climate change while also encouraging a positive attitude toward them. However, there is concern that, despite the educational efforts made in schools to encourage understanding and a good attitude about climate change, individuals will continue to engage in behaviors that contribute to the acceleration of climate change. Some studies have been conducted in Nigeria’s Kaduna, Imo and Cross River states to determine whether or not students’ understanding and attitudes concerning climate change have changed as a consequence of school-based training. The key source of concern for the researchers is that it seems that such an important current study has not been carried out in Abia State. This is the void that the current research seeks to fill with its findings. Given the aforementioned gap, the issue of the research, which is expressed in question form, is what level of climate change understanding and attitude pupils at the senior secondary level have.
1.3OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The general objective of the study is to examine secondary school students knowledge and attitude of climate change. Specifically, the study intends to;
- To examine the level of secondary school students knowledge of climate change.
- To find out the extent of secondary school students’ attitudes towards climate change.
- To evaluate the significant differences in students’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices based on their gender.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions have been prepared for the study
- What is the level of secondary school students knowledge of climate change?
- What is the extent of secondary school students’ attitudes towards climate change?
- Is there a significant differences in students’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices based on their gender?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study will be significant to the students, government, society and curriculum planners. The students stand a chance of benefiting from the study as it will present them opportunity to appraise themselves particularly on their level of awareness and attitude towards climate change. This will be possible because as the students will be actively involved in the study through responding to the items of the research instruments, they will understand (as they read through the items) the issues in climate change such its meaning, causes, effects as well as the positive attitudes needed for cautioning further increase and effects of climate change.
This findings will be significant to government as it will enable the government and other concerned non governmental organizations to ascertain if environmentally relevant school subjects like Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Physics, Social studies and Basic science have actually promoted students’ awareness and attitude towards climate change. Again, non school based programmes like radio jingles, television programmes and newspaper articles are really creating awareness on climate change and influencing peoples’ attitude towards climate change positively.
The study will be of benefit to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study will examine the level of secondary school students knowledge of climate change. The study will also find out the extent of secondary school students’ attitudes towards climate change. Lastly, the study will evaluate the significant differences in students’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices based on their gender. Hence the study will be delimited to Akwa Ibom State
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The researcher encountered minor obstacles when conducting the study, as with any human endeavor. The significant constraint was the scarcity of literature on the subject due to the nature of the discourse, so the researcher incurred more financial expenses and spent more time sourcing for relevant materials, literature, or information and in the data collection process, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. Furthermore, the researcher did this investigation alongside other academic activities.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Knowledge: facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
Attitude: a settled way of thinking or feeling about something.
Climate change: a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates.