CIVIL ENGINEERING 365 ALL ABOUT CIVIL ENGINEERING



AbstractCivil engineers will face increasing challenges in their careers due to climate change. The infrastructure they design and construct will directly contribute to or mitigate it. Action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change requires both a belief in human-caused global warming and a basic understanding of climate science. To understand which current engineering education efforts are successful or may need more consideration, a national sample of civil engineering students and students from other engineering disciplines was asked about their belief in global warming, understanding of greenhouse gases, the causes of global climate change, and ways to help reduce or slow it. The overwhelming majority of civil engineering students (83%) and students from other engineering disciplines (81%) acknowledged that global warming is happening. Nearly three of every four civil engineering students (73.5%) and other engineering students (71.3%) believed that global warming is caused by humans. However, only about half of civil engineering students (55.6%) and other engineering students (52.3%) felt that global warming is personally important. The majority of civil engineering students and other engineering students did not understand the causes and actions to reduce global warming. More than half of civil engineering students (60%) believed that nuclear power generation is a cause of global warming, which is significantly more than students from other engineering disciplines (52.6%). More than 8 of every 10 civil engineering students (83%) incorrectly believed or were unsure that the ozone hole in the upper atmosphere is a cause of global warming. A possible explanation for these misconceptions is that civil engineering students recognized general problems, such as nuclear waste and the ozone hole, but they did not link particular causes with particular consequences. Possible interventions were discussed for making climate change information personally relevant to engage students to think about cause and effect related to the climate.



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