SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Researchers at San Jose State University are claiming they have proof that climate change education reduces individual carbon emissions.

“People really don’t think about education when they think about solutions to climate change,” said Professor Eugene Cordero.  “But it can have a lasting impact.”

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Cordero and his team contacted 500 students who took the university’s global climate change course from 2007 to 2012 and asked them to take a survey on their carbon reduction habits.

“We were able to see this huge difference between students who had taken our course and the average Californian,” Cordero said.

The research confirmed what professors already suspected: that the more people learn about climate change, the more they are willing to change their habits.

“And the reduction was about three tons of carbon per year, which is a similar reduction to having an electric car or putting solar panels on your roof,” explained Cordero.

Students at San Jose State told KPIX they first started learning about climate change or what was then called global warming when they were in middle school.

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“Starting as a kid, they talked about it a ton. And then into high school, we had a year where we just talked about climate change and its impact on the globe,” said SJSU student Nicholas Cappeloni.

Some students said they are now automatically doing things to cut down their carbon footprint because of what they learned in school.

“Usually when I come to school, I take the bus,” said student Ryan Luong.

“I car pool because of that and also I use reusable cups, I think it’s important,” said student Chloe Smith.

Professor Cordero’s study was just published in PLOS One, a scientific journal and the research is being peer
reviewed.

“We’re sharing with the community, the role that education can have on reducing long term carbon emissions.”
said Cordero.

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The professor noted that the human element is often overlooked in big plans to lower emissions and produce renewable energy, but he says it can be a cost effective and powerful alternative.