Transportation Related Environmental Knowledge and Attitude of the Chinese Youth

TitleTransportation Related Environmental Knowledge and Attitude of the Chinese Youth
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsTse C, Zhao J
Conference NameTransportation Research Board 91st Annual Meeting
Conference LocationWashington, D.C.

Transportation-related environmental problems have become increasingly serious in many Chinese cities. Vehicle population has been growing rapidly and vehicle emissions have become the dominant pollution source. This paper is concerned with transportation-related environmental knowledge and attitudes of the youth--the generation who will be affected by and will have to ultimately provide solutions to the environment problems arising from today. We conducted questionnaire surveys among over 600 high school students in Dongguan, China to examine their environmental knowledge and attitude. Structural equation models confirm that students’ environmental knowledge positively impacts their environmental attitudes though the impact is limited: only 15% of the variation in attitude is explained by knowledge. We further distinguish the transportation-specific knowledge and attitude from the general ones. Analysis of variance identifies significant difference in general vs. transportation-specific knowledge but not between attitudes.

To assess the school education’s impact on environmental knowledge and attitude, we compare students across the six grades and are disappointed to report that no increases along the grades can be observed in either general or transportation-specific knowledge or attitudes. In fact a trend of decline in attitude is noticeable though not systematic. The high school education does not seem to contribute to students’ environmental knowledge or attitude. This study focuses only on one typical school so the finding cannot be generalized without caution and alternative explanations may exist. But it does suggest either environmental education is not yet part of the curriculum’s objectives or any attempt on this objective has largely failed.