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   Abstract
  Introduction
   Materials and Me...
  Results
  Discussion
  Conclusion
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  Table of Contents 
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 109-112
 

Assessment of awareness regarding climate change in an urban community


Department of Community Medicine, Smt. Kashibai Navale Medical College, Narhe, Pune, India

Date of Web Publication24-Feb-2012

Correspondence Address:
Harshal T Pandve
Department of Community Medicine, Smt. Kashibai Navale Medical College, Narhe, Pune - 411 041
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.93200

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  Abstract 

Background : Climate change has emerged as one of the most devastating environmental threats. It is essential to assess the awareness regarding climate change in the general population for framing the mitigation activities. Aim: To assess the awareness regarding climate change in an urban community. Settings and Design: Urban field practice area of a medical college in the Pune city. Observational study. Materials and Methods: The cross-sectional survey was conducted in the urban adult population who had given the written consent. A pre-tested questionnaire was used for a face to face interview. Responses were evaluated. Statistical Analysis Used: Proportions, percentage. Results: Total 733 respondents above 18 years of age were included in the present survey. 672 (91.68%) respondents commented that global climate is changing. 547 (81.40%) respondents opined that human activities are contributing to climate change. 576 (85.71%) respondents commented that climate changing based on their personal experiences. Commonest source of information about climate change was television (59.78%). Poor awareness about UNFCC, Kyoto Protocol and IPCC was found. 549 (74.90%) respondents commented that deforestation contribute most significantly towards climate change. As per 530 (72.31%) respondents water related issues are due to changing climate change. According to 529 (72.17%) respondents, direct physical hazards of extreme climatic events are most important health related impact of climate change. According to 478 (65.21%) respondents, life style changes (63.3%) would be most effective in tackling climate change and for preventing further climate change. Conclusion: The urban general population is aware about changing global climate. Personal efforts are more important in mitigating climate change as per the urban general population. The awareness campaigns regarding mitigation activities are recommended.


Keywords: Awareness, climate change, community, urban


How to cite this article:
Pandve HT, Chawla P S, Fernandez K, Singru SA, Khismatrao D, Pawar S. Assessment of awareness regarding climate change in an urban community. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2011;15:109-12

How to cite this URL:
Pandve HT, Chawla P S, Fernandez K, Singru SA, Khismatrao D, Pawar S. Assessment of awareness regarding climate change in an urban community. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2011 [cited 2019 Apr 21];15:109-12. Available from: http://www.ijoem.com/text.asp?2011/15/3/109/93200



  Introduction Top


Climate change has emerged as one of the most devastating environmental threats. Global climate change impacts on human and natural systems are predicted to be severe. As evidence of climate change and its impact continues to be amassed, it has become clear that many of the causes of climate change are anthropogenic in nature through lifestyles, consumption and choices that pollute and exploit resources in an unsustainable manner. It is also predicted that climate change will have detrimental effects upon agriculture and fisheries, and may even result in collapsing ecosystems. [1]

There is an urgent need to sensitize the general population regarding global warming and climate change. [2] Motivation for voluntary mitigation is mostly dependent on perceived susceptibility to threats and severity of climate change or climate variability impacts, whereas adaptation is largely dependent on the availability of information relevant to climate change. [3] Strategic action is required both from individuals and the private/public sector to prevent harmful corollaries from climate change to individuals and society at large. There is a pressing need to address issues related to adaptation, vulnerability, and coping in developing nations as these have most of the world's urban population, high-risk urban sites, and the largest deficiencies in adaptive capacity. [4]

To address all these issues effectively, it is essential to assess awareness regarding climate change in the general population. In response to this issue, the present survey was conducted with the aim of assessing the awareness of the urban general population residing in the urban field practice area of the medical college in the Pune city.


  Materials and Methods Top


The present cross-sectional survey was carried out in the urban field practice area, one of the medical colleges situated in Pune city of Maharashtra state of India. The purposes of the survey and all the terms used in the survey were explained to the respondents and confidentially maintained. An adult who had given the written informed consent was included in the survey. Each respondent was interviewed face to face with the help of pre-tested questionnaire which has both close-ended and open-ended questions. The data were analyzed by using statistical software Epi Info 2002.

Statistical Analysis Used

Proportions, percentage.


  Results Top


Total 733 respondents were interviewed face to face in the survey. 672 (91.68%) respondents commented that global climate is changing, while 547 (81.40%) respondents opined that human activities are contributing to climate change. 576 (85.71%) respondents commented that climate changing based on their personal experiences. The most common source of information about climate change was television (59.78%) followed by newspaper and magazines (42.11%), radio (13.39%), and Internet (9.23%). Only 24 (3.27%) of the respondents had heard about UNFCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and Kyoto Protocol and only 33 (4.50%) heard about IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change). 549 (74.90%) respondents commented that deforestation contributes most significantly toward climate change, 446 (60.85%) commented that vehicular pollution contributing to climate change, followed by industrial pollution 342 (46.66%) [Table 1].
Table 1: Factors contributing to climate change

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As per 530 (72.31%) respondents, water-related issues (quantity as well as quality of water) are mainly pertaining to changing climate change. According to 450 (61.39%) respondents, health-related issues are also related to changing climate. Other issues were reduction in agricultural productions 392 (53.48%), energy-related issues 321 (43.79%), and frequent natural disasters 144 (19.65%). All these issues should be a priority for the climate change prevention strategy action plan.

Of the health-related hazards, as per 529 (72.17%) respondents, direct physical hazards of extreme climatic events are most important health-related impact of climate change, followed by water-borne diseases 501 (68.35%), vector-borne diseases 437 (59.62%), under nutrition 164 (22.37%), and health hazards due to natural disasters 108 (14.73%). As per 312 (43.79%) respondents, various issues due to climate change are same at different places, while 421 (56.21%) did not agree for the same.

According to 478 (65.21%) respondents, lifestyle changes would be most effective in tackling climate change and for preventing further changes in climate. As per 400 (54.57%) respondents, awareness regarding climate change and education to prevent further climate change would be important followed by more scientific research on various aspects and climate change

335 (45.70%). International partnership and cooperation is also essential as per 143 (19.51%) respondents [Table 2].
Table 2: Strategies for mitigating climate change

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As per 210 (28.65%) respondents, climate change can be prevented by individual efforts and life style changes like planting and protecting tree, using non-conventional sources of energy, using public transport systems rather than personal vehicles, reducing electricity use, educating others about preventing climate change.


  Discussion Top


In the present cross-sectional survey, 672 (91.68%) respondents commented that global climate is changing, while 547 (81.40%) respondents opined that human activities are contributing to climate change. A Gallup survey conducted in 2009 by face-to-face and telephone interviews with adults, aged 15 and older shows 32% of Indians say they know at least something about climate change, similar to awareness in previous years. Urban Indians, who tend to be better educated, are significantly more likely to report being aware of climate change. 41% of adults in urban India know at least something about climate change, compared with 28% in rural India where more than two thirds of the population lives. [5]

The Gallup survey was also conducted in Brazil, South Africa, China, and the United States. The awareness was found to be 75% in Brazil, 41% in South Africa, 59% in China, and highest awareness was observed in United States that was 94%. [5] A Harris Poll published in October 2002 reported that 85% of adult Americans had seen, heard, or read about global warming. [6] A study by researchers at the University of Oklahoma concluded that a large percentage of the American public recognizes and believes global warming could be a problem. [7]

In the present survey, 549 (74.90%) respondents commented that deforestation contribute most significantly toward climate change, 446 (60.85%) commented that vehicular pollution contributing to climate change, followed by industrial pollution 342 (46.66%). In the study conducted by Read et al., the main reasons for climate changes were reduction in biomass (57%), automobiles (41%), industries (32%). [8]

According to 450 (61.39%) respondents, health-related issues are related to changing climate. Of the health-related issues, as per 529 (72.17%) respondents, direct physical hazards of extreme climatic events are most important health related impact of climate change, followed by waterborne diseases 501 (68.35%), vector-borne diseases 437 (59.62%), under nutrition 164 (22.37%), and health hazards due to natural disasters 108 (14.73%). Our findings on environmental impacts from climate change are very similar to surveys conducted in the United States, Canada, and Malta with 60-80% of respondents anticipating environmental threats. [9]

In the present survey, according to 478 (65.21%) respondents, lifestyle changes would be most effective in tackling climate change and for prevent further changes in climate. As per the study conducted by Read et al., 75% opined that personal efforts should be made to reduce the climate change. [8]

Lorenzoni and Pidgeon (2006) examined how climate change is conceptualized by publics in Europe and in the USA. The study found that although there is widespread concern about climate change, it is of secondary importance in comparison to other issues in people's daily lives. Most individuals relate to climate change through personal experience, knowledge, the balance of benefits and costs, and trust in other societal actors. They analyze these factors through findings from various surveys and studies, which highlight both the distinctiveness and some shared perspectives at a generalized level. [9]

According to Rishi et al., it can be understood firstly, through the analysis of human psyche and how seriously it is concerned about its possible impacts on generation to come, and their emotional involvement with the problem, i.e. the affective concerns of people. Secondly, the cognitive aspects of human psyche are also very important. If people are not properly aware of the nature of problem of climate change and how it is going to affect them, they will never be emotionally concerned about the whole issue. After cognitive understanding and affective concerns, the need for actual action or conative component arises, to resolve the problem. [4]

Given the complexities of decision-making processes, survey data can provide information for policymakers and decision makers who face difficult choices about how to address global climate change. Survey data can show favorable or unfavorable attitudes toward ideas, general levels of knowledge, and fears or concerns; it is less accurate at predicting actual behavior or explaining reasons for opinions. [10],[11] The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol can only succeed if the general public and key stakeholders support effective action. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has prepared "handbook for government focal points" by drawing on a recent series of UN-sponsored workshops and its own experience in supporting outreach activities. The handbook gathers together a range of practical experiences and commonsense lessons in the field of awareness-raising from Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Europe and Latin America, and the Caribbean. The importance of communicating with the general public and engaging stakeholders is fully recognized by the Climate Change Convention itself. Article 6 on Education, Training, and Public Awareness urges governments to develop and implement educational and public awareness programs on climate change and its effects, to ensure public access to information and to promote public participation in addressing the issue. [12]


  Conclusion Top


The present survey reflects that a general population in urban area is aware about global climate change as well as role of human activities in climate change. The sources of information are usually non-scientific materials. The awareness regarding important agencies and protocol in the field of climate change was found to be poor. A majority of respondents support personal measures for mitigating climate change which is a very promising sign. There is need to conduct large nationwide survey to generate information. Such surveys will form the basis to establish a foundation for decision makers for climate change mitigation activities. It is also recommended that awareness campaigns/programs regarding climate change and measures to combat to be introduced for better preparedness.

Limitation of the study

The survey represents an urban population from a limited area; this may have induced some bias in the study sample.


  Acknowledgement Top


Authors are grateful to Dr. A.V. Bhore, Dean, Smt. Kashibai Navale Medical College, Narhe Pune for his consistent support and encouragement. Authors are also thankful to Mr. Uttam Sonawane & Mrs. Sheetal Nandedkar, Medical Social Workers, UHTC, Kondhwa, Pune

 
  References Top

1.Nichols A, Maynard V, Goodman B, Richardson J. Health, climate change and sustainability: A systematic review and thematic analysis of the literature. Environ Health Insights 2009;3:63-88.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
2.Pandve H. Global warming: Need to sensitize general population. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2007;11:86-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
3.Semenza JC, Ploubidis GB, George LA. Climate change and climate variability: Personal motivation for adaptation and mitigation. Environ Health 2011;10:46.  Back to cited text no. 3
[PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
4.Rishi P, Ompraksah MD, Mudaliar R. Behavioural mapping of Indian urban settlements towards changing climate: an empirical study. Available from: http://climsec.prio.no/papers/norway%20full%20paper-final.pdf. [Last cited on 2011 Oct 1].   Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Ray J, Pugliese A. Indians largely unaware of climate change. Available from: http://www.gallup.com/poll/125267/indians-largely-unaware-climate-change.aspx. [Last cited on 2011 Oct 1].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.Harris Interactive. Majorities Continue to Believe in Global Warming and Support Kyoto Treaty Harris Interactive, 2002. Available from: http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/printerfriend/index.asp?PID=335. [Last cited on 2011 Oct 1].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.Leiserowitz A. American opinions on global warming University of Oregon Survey Research Laboratory, 2003. Available from: http://osrl.uoregon.edu/projects/globalwarm. [Last cited on 2011 Oct 1].   Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.Read D, Bostrom A, Morgan Granger M, Fischhoff B, Smuts T. What do people know about global climate change? 2. Survey studies of educated lay people. Risk Anal 1994;14:971-82.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.Akerlof KD, Berry P, Leiserowitz A, Roser-Renouf C, Clarke KL, Rogaeva A, et al. Public perceptions of climate change as a human health risk: surveys of the United States, Canada and Malta. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2010;7:2559-606.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.Lorenzoni I, Pidgeon NF. Public views on climate change: European and USA perspectives. Climatic Change 2006;77:73-95.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.Conn WD. Energy and Material Resources: Attitudes, Values, and Public Policy. Washington, DC, Westview Press for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1983.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.Raising awareness of climate change, A handbook for government focal points. Published by the United Nations Environment Programme's Division of Environmental Law and Conventions in October 2006, with special thanks to the Government of Norway. Available from: http://www.unep.org/dec/docs/UNEP_Climate_Change_Handbook.pdf. [Last cited on 2011 Oct 1].  Back to cited text no. 12
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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