I have been working with a general assumption that most people, in 2008/9, understand that there is a climate crisis. Yet some artists and activists have been a little slow in adapting to this shift in popular knowledge; making work that tells people, again, about the horrible state of our environment. So I had James Bachhuber dig up some facts on the environmental knowledge to see if my hunch was right. Here’s some interesting findings, some only tangentially related, from a preliminary search.

  • In a study of college students, aesthetic and economic arguments were not found to alter views on protecting particular endangered species, but ethics, morality, importance to the environment and one’s ability to make a difference were all effective arguments. (Brackney and McAndrew, 2001)
  • Knowledge of wildlife is very low for those earning under $15,000 per Year, relatively high in all high income groups. Naturalistic and ecologistic attitudes become more prevalent with higher income, utilitarian and negativistic become less common. Moralistic attitudes tend to drop with income over $50,000 (Kellert 1980).
  • Higher levels of knowledge correlate with higher income levels (NEETF. 1999). Income was found to correlate positively with environmental knowledge” and environmental world view (Arbury and Christianson, 1993)
  • Support for further endangered species regulation -47% of urban population, 40% of rural population. NEETF 1999
  • Kids from disadvantaged areas tend to be more concerned with issues that directly affect them, as opposed to advantaged kids who have a stronger attitude toward protecting plants and animals (NEETF 1994)
  • Real change usually emerges from educational strategies that give the learner a sense of involvement and ownership. Hallmarks of effective EE programs include hands-on activities, investigational approaches, out-of-the-classroom experiences, and student-directed learning. Too few of our schools make use of these approaches, relegating EE to a traditional lecture- style, “information only” format. Teachers need to be trained in these more sophisticated forms of student-directed instruction. Environmental literacy in America p13
  • “This study finds that a higher level of environmental knowledge correlates significantly with a higher degree of pro-environment behavior. But increased knowledge, by itself, has real limitations. Increased environmental knowledge works best for simple, easy information and behaviors such as consumer decisions or saving water and electricity.” Environmental literacy in America P. 13