Working toward a sustainable UW-EC

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Student/Faculty Research Project on Climate Change Opinion Survey

Global warming has become a hotly debated topic with much discussion occurring in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. appears headed toward passing new legislation mandating reductions in carbon emissions possibly coupled with tax policies and perhaps even a cap and trade permit system. But how much do people really know about global warming?

For the past few months, a group of four students have teamed up with Economics Professor Eric Jamelske to complete a report analyzing opinions on Global Warming/Climate Change. To find out we began with a survey to assess the perceptions and general understanding of global warming/climate change issues among UWEC students and Chippewa Valley households.

We first ask whether global warming is happening and how much cause for concern should we have regarding this issue? The survey then probes what policies/strategies may be effective in addressing global warming. Our results are presented using graphs and tables to highlight the similarities and differences in the responses given by university students compared to households in the region.

Based on survey results from both students and households in Western Wisconsin there is a general consensus that global warming is real, but it is not clear how worried or concerned we should be regarding this issue. Moreover, many people are not sure which policies would be most effective in lessening global warming and most are only a little familiar with the current political debate in the United States.

This project creates a report defining what is meant by global warming and also outlines the basics of carbon offsets as well as a carbon tax or a cap and trade permit system. There are also links to scientific and political sources that have extensively studied these topics including a characterization of existing policies in Canada and several European nations. Our goal is to provide a one-stop information clearinghouse to the general public for those that want to know more about global warming science and global warming policy.

We hope this will serve as a citizen’s guide to useful resources on the science and public policy of climate change.

Look for the report at the UW-Eau Claire Student Research Day, April 26-28, in the Zorn Arena, and also at the UW System Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, April 30 in the University Center of UW-River Falls.

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