Dec 9 2011 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Friday
THE turbulent economic climate is having a negative impact on the way younger people perceive global warming.
That was the view expressed by University of Stirling academic, Dr Matthew Hibberd, prior to a speech at a film festival in New Delhi earlier this week.
Dr Hibberd presented the findings of a joint Indian and UK research project examining young peoples’ attitudes to climate change, at the Vatavaran Environment and Wildlife Film Festival on Wednesday, December 7.
As well as locally-based Dr Hibberd, the document – titled ‘Look Forward In Anger’ – was compiled by the University of Bournemouth’s Dr An Nguyen.
Dr Hibberd said: “While participants in the UK understand key aspects of climate change, there is a high degree of pessimism about current international inaction to tackle climate change.
“This is linked to broader concerns about the state of the world economy, particularly in the UK, and to the perceived inability of some leaders who lack the necessary vision to tackle key social issues.
“We are living in a society that does not encourage much hope for the future, particularly for young people, with fewer jobs and less prospects and opportunities. This could contribute to a general lack of enthusiasm about many areas, including sustainability.”
Despite the perception of doom and gloom, specially-commissioned research teams found key examples of good practice involving young environmental campaigners.
Dr Hibberd continued: “We found that only a minority of our focus group members in the UK were actively involved in climate change campaigns. There was a perception among some that environmental campaigns did not have any discernible impact on everyday lives.
“Some focus group members felt a certain detachment from nature, chiming with a recent argument by Sir David Attenborough.
“Our research demonstrates clear evidence of youth involvement in environmental activities. There is a lot of good work being done by youth organisations, campaign groups, schools and national and local governments.
“But there remains much scepticism whether the international community as a whole wishes to tackle this problem seriously and present a coherent low carbon vision to our young people.”
The report was funded by the British Council-run UK and India Education and Research Initiative and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.