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Report Card on Minnesotans’ Environmental Literacy (2003-04) PowerPoint Presentation
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Report Card on Minnesotans’ Environmental Literacy (2003-04)

Report Card on Minnesotans’ Environmental Literacy (2003-04)

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Report Card on Minnesotans’ Environmental Literacy (2003-04)

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  1. Report Card on Minnesotans’ Environmental Literacy (2003-04) Presentation at Office of Environmental Assistance September 9, 2004 Tony P. Murphy, Ph.D. College of St. Catherine

  2. Report Card on Minnesotans’ Environmental Literacy (2003-04) • Funded by • MN Office of Environmental Assistance • Hamline University • Survey conducted by • Wilder Research Center • Thanks to the Working Group involved in this project • And to the 1,000 Minnesota residents who completed the survey

  3. Report Card on Minnesotans’ Environmental Literacy (2003-04) • What is important about environmental literacy?  • Why do we need environmental literacy? • What is involved in environmental literacy? • What do you feel is the appropriate grade level of environmental literacy necessary for Minnesotans to make informed environmental and social decisions?

  4. Report Card on Minnesotans’ Environmental Literacy (2003-04) • Did you know that only 1 in 3 adult Americans has a passing understanding of our most pressing environmental issues (1999 NEETF survey) • That 18% of Americans believe that nuclear waste is disposed of in landfills (2001 NEEFT survey) • That 32% of Minnesota residents believe that hydro-plants generate the electricity in the US (2002 MN Report Card)

  5. Environmental Literacy Surveys • 1992-1995 Times-Mirror • 1996-1999 NEETF and Roper Starch Worldwide • 1997 General Environmental Knowledge • 1998 Ten Common Environmental Myths • 1999 Knowledge and opinions about emerging issues • 2000 Environmental Education • 2001 Energy • 1998-2000 PA Center for Environmental Ed • 2000-2002 CGEE, Hamline University, OEA, WRC • 2003-2004 Repeating Survey

  6. Environmental Literacy • What is it anyway? • The Earth is a set of interacting natural and social systems. An environmentally literate person must understand the relationship of the parts of a system and the interdependence of human and environmental systems. • Minnesota’s Environmental Literacy Scope and Sequence , OEA

  7. Environmental Literacy • How do we develop this in the population? The traditional thinking in the field of environmental education has been that we can change behavior by making human beings more knowledgeable about the environment and its associated issues. This thinking has largely been linked to the assumption that, if we make human beings more knowledgeable, they will, in turn, become more aware of the environment and its problems and, thus, be more motivated to act toward the environment in more responsible ways.

  8. Environmental Literacy • How do we develop this in the population? An early and widely accepted model for EE has been described in the following manner: "Increased knowledge leads to favorable attitudes . . which in turn lead to action promoting better environmental quality" (Ramsey and Rickson, 1977).

  9. Environmental Literacy In 1986-87, Hines et al. published an important meta-analysis of the behavior research literature in EE. The researchers analyzed 118 studies which had been reported since 197I . . . which assessed variables in association with responsible environmental behavior and which reported empirical data on this relationship.... An analysis of data (from these studies) resulted in the emergence of a number of major categories of variables which had been investigated in association with responsible environmental behavior. • How do we develop this in the population?

  10. Environmental Literacy • How do we develop this in the population?

  11. Environmental Literacy Concurrently with or subsequent to the Hines et al. research, a number of other researchers were making substantial contributions to the literature on behavior (Borden 1984-85; Borden and Powell 1983; Holt 1988). These studies revealed that there are probably three categories of variables that contribute to behavior. The variable categories (entry-level variables, ownership variables, and empowerment variables) are hypothesized to act in more or less of a linear fashion, albeit a complex one. • How do we develop this in the population?

  12. Environmental Literacy • How do we develop this in the population?

  13. Environmental Literacy • Given the knowledge of the research, how does a report like this fit into the models? • It helps reinforce the research • It illustrates that education about the environment is a complicated issue and not a simple flow of knowledge, improving attitudes and influencing behavior • It helps us to see where some of the gaps do exist in areas of knowledge, attitudes and behaviors

  14. Report Card Goals • Adults in Minnesota were surveyed for their knowledge about, attitudes toward and behaviors related to the environment. • Examining the development of trends in relation to environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviors within the state • It is hoped that Minnesota adults will continue to be surveyed again at various points in the future where these trends may become more visible. • Impact this card may have on outreach and education programs in the state.

  15. Report Card Process • A working group was formed to assist in the development of a survey. The working group has participants from various organizations in the state. The next slide shows the representatives in the working group. • Working group members were given questions from various NEETF and other surveys to select for the survey.

  16. Report Card Working Group Academic: Hamline University; University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Minnesota Extension Business: Barr Engineering, MN; Cargill, Incorporated; Target Corporation; 3M Corporation Non-Profits: League of Conservation Voters Education Fund; Minnesota Association of Environmental Education; Minnesota Environmental Initiative; Pheasants Forever Agencies: Ramsey County Department of Public Health; Metropolitan Council Environmental Services; Department of Natural Resources; Pollution Control Agency; Office of Environmental Assistance Individuals: Attorney-at-Law

  17. Report Card Process • Some questions were used in their original state, others were altered for a Minnesotan audience. • The survey was timed to last about 12-15 minutes. This survey ended up at the outer limit of 15 minutes. • Questions were field-tested before they were used.

  18. Report Card Process • The survey utilized a random-digit dial sample and randomized selection within the household. • One-thousand interviews were completed with adults throughout Minnesota. Given this sample size, relative to the adult population of Minnesota (3,560,000), the sampling error is + 3.1 % points. • Interviewing began in August, 2003, and continued through November, 2003. • More methodology details are located in the final report

  19. Report Card Process Some interesting points about the 2 Minnesota Report Cards • Some of the same questions were used so comparisons can be made at the individual level but not the group level • Urban sprawl was considered in 2001, water issues are covered in 2003 • Some environmental behavior questions were asked in a different way in this survey from the previous one

  20. Report Card Results KNOWLEDGE

  21. Results: General Environmental Knowledge • Almost 60% (65% in 2001) of Minnesota adults believe that they are knowledgeable about environmental issues and problems. • However, 47% of the state’s adults have an above-average knowledge about the environment, answering correctly five or more of the eight general environmental knowledge questions. • Only 11% received an A grade, answering seven to eight questions correctly.

  22. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Based on the eight general environmental knowledge survey questions, here’s how Minnesotans scored. (A = 7-8 correct; B = 5-6 correct; C = 4 correct; D = 3 correct; F = 0-2 correct)

  23. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Test your general environmental knowledge: Thinking about the country as a whole, how is most of the electricity in the U.S. generated? Is it… By burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, With nuclear power, Through solar energy, or At hydro electric power plants? Now, thinking only about Minnesota, how is most of the electricity in Minnesota generated? Is it… By burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, With nuclear power, Through wind energy, or At hydro electric power plants?

  24. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Test your general environmental knowledge: Carbon monoxide is a major contributor to air pollution in the U.S. Which of the following is the biggest source of carbon monoxide? Is it… Factories and businesses, People breathing, Motor vehicles, or Trees? Scientists have not determined the best solution for disposing of nuclear waste. In the Minnesota, what do we do with it now? Do we….. Reuse it as nuclear fuel, Send it to another state for storage and monitoring, Dump it in landfills, or Store and monitor it at the nuclear power plant?

  25. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Test your general environmental knowledge: What do you think is the main cause of global climate change, that is, the warming of the planet Earth? Is it… A recent increase in oxygen in the atmosphere, Sunlight radiating more strongly through a hole in the upper ozone layer, More carbon emissions from autos, homes and industry, Increased activity from volcanoes worldwide, or You don’t believe there is global climate change?

  26. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Test your general environmental knowledge: Many communities are concerned about running out of space in their community trash dumps and landfills. Is the greatest source of landfill material… Disposable diapers, Lawn and garden clippings, trimmings and leaves, Paper products including newspapers, cardboard and packing, or Glass and plastic bottles and aluminum and steel cans?

  27. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Test your general environmental knowledge: The Twin Cities area has had a number of air pollution alerts in the past few years, partially due to smog. What is the primary source of this smog? Is it… Power plants, The exhaust of motor vehicles, Waste incinerators, or Smoke from fireplaces? Urban sprawl generally helps people spend less time driving. True False

  28. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Figure 2. Scores on eight general environmental knowledge questions used in Minnesota environmental literacy surveys, 2001 and 2003

  29. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Figure 3. Scores on three environmental knowledge questions used in national, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota surveys

  30. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Test your general environmental knowledge: Thinking about the country as a whole, how is most of the electricity in the U.S. generated? Is it… By burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, With nuclear power, Through solar energy, or At hydro electric power plants?

  31. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Figure 4. Responses to “How is most of the electricity in the U.S. generated?

  32. Results: General Environmental Knowledge The question relating to electricity generation in MN gave the following results:

  33. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Test your general environmental knowledge: Many communities are concerned about running out of room in their community trash dumps and landfills? Is the greatest source of landfill material… 1. Disposable diapers 2. Lawn and garden clippings, trimmings and leaves 3. Paper products including newspapers, cardboard and packing 4. Glass and plastic bottles and aluminum and steel cans

  34. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Even though 29% (30% in 2001) of Minnesotans surveyed believed that disposable diapers are the greatest source of landfill materials, the U.S. EPA estimates that only 3.4 million tons of disposable diapers were discarded in 2001, that is, only 1.4% of all MSW. • paper products 28% • plastic 15% • yard clippings 7% • glass 6% • aluminum cans 1.5% (total metals 7.4%) • disposable diapers 1.5%

  35. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Figure 6. Responses to “What is the greatest source of landfill material?“

  36. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Demographics were also considered in the survey. The variables examines were: • Gender • Age • Education level • Income level • Location (7 county metro, other metro, non-metro)

  37. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Figure 7. Responses of Minnesota females and males to eight general knowledge questions

  38. Results: General Environmental Knowledge Figure 8. Scores of Minnesota females and males on the eight general environmental knowledge questions

  39. Results: Knowledge about water Figure 10. How did Minnesotans score on questions about water? A = 5 correctB = 4 correctC = 3 correctD = 2 correctF = 0-1 correct

  40. Results: Knowledge about water Test your general environmental knowledge: What is the most common cause of pollution of streams, rivers and oceans? Is it… Dumping of garbage by cities, Surface water running off yards, city streets, paved lots, and farm fields, Trash washed into the ocean from beaches, or Waste from factories?

  41. Results: Knowledge about water Test your general environmental knowledge: Mercury from air pollution is a health concern in lakes because it settles out of the air into water. What is the largest source of mercury in Minnesota’s air? Coal-burning power plants, Exhaust from motor vehicles, Burning of batteries in incinerators, or Smoke from fireplaces?

  42. Results: Knowledge about water Test your general environmental knowledge: Most towns and cities in Minnesota have storm sewers that prevent flooding by draining rainwater from streets and parking lots. Where do you think water entering storm sewers goes? Does it go… To wastewater treatment plants, To lakes, rivers and wetlands, or Into groundwater?

  43. Results: Knowledge about water Test your general environmental knowledge: Many lawn fertilizers and dishwashing detergents contain phosphorous which can be damaging to the environment. Which of the following is the major environmental impact of phosphorus? It is poisonous to fish, It has an unpleasant smell, It promotes excessive plant and algae growth in lakes and rivers, or It pollutes ground water?

  44. Results: Knowledge about water Figure 11. Scores on five water knowledge questions used in Minnesota surveys, 2001 and 2003

  45. Results: Knowledge about water Figure 12. Scores of Minnesota females and males on five water knowledge questions.

  46. Results: Knowledge about water Figure 13. Demographic comparison of responses of Minnesota residents on five water knowledge questions

  47. Results: Knowledge about water Figure 13. Demographic comparison of responses of Minnesota residents on five water knowledge questions

  48. Results: Overall Environmental Knowledge Figure 14. Overall, how did Minnesotans score on the knowledge questions? A = 11-13 correctB = 9-10 correctC = 7-8 correctD = 5-6 correctF = 0-4 correct

  49. Results: Self-reported Knowledge Minnesota adults were asked how much they themselves feel they know about environmental issues and problems. Responses ranged from “a lot,” “a fair amount,” “only a little,” or “practically nothing.”

  50. Results: Self-reported Knowledge 60% of Minnesotans believe that they are knowledgeable about these issues, down 5 percentage points from the 2001 survey Yet only 26% have an above-average knowledge score on the 13 general environmental knowledge questions (9-13 correct).