Journal of Environment Pollution and Human Health
ISSN (Print): 2334-3397 ISSN (Online): 2334-3494 Website: http://www.sciepub.com/journal/jephh Editor-in-chief: Dibyendu Banerjee
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Journal of Environment Pollution and Human Health. 2021, 9(1), 1-5
DOI: 10.12691/jephh-9-1-1
Open AccessArticle

Estimation of the Carbon Footprint, Its Contributory Factors, and Knowledge and Attitudes about Climate Change among Medical Students in Sri Lanka

PCI Wijesinghe1, , S Mathurahan1, DS Wijesundere1, S Ranawaka1, C Arambepola2 and T Chang3

1National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka

2Department of Community Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

3Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

Pub. Date: January 03, 2021

Cite this paper:
PCI Wijesinghe, S Mathurahan, DS Wijesundere, S Ranawaka, C Arambepola and T Chang. Estimation of the Carbon Footprint, Its Contributory Factors, and Knowledge and Attitudes about Climate Change among Medical Students in Sri Lanka. Journal of Environment Pollution and Human Health. 2021; 9(1):1-5. doi: 10.12691/jephh-9-1-1

Abstract

The threat to human health from climate change through malnutrition, disease and extreme weather conditions is substantial. Instead of being advocates for a greener planet, doctors are known to possess a large carbon footprint (CFP). Whether a trend towards a higher CFP is initiated during the formative medical student years is not known. This study aimed to estimate the CFP among medical students and to assess their knowledge and attitudes towards climate change. A descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted among 256 randomly selected medical students in Sri Lanka. The mean CFP of a medical student was 5.64 (SD=2.72) mtCO2/year. The highest contribution to the CFP was from lifestyle factors (68.97%) followed by travel (26.41%). The CFP increased with increasing household income (p=0.001). 82% of students knew the meaning of ‘greenhouse effect’, but only 33% knew the meaning of ‘carbon footprint’; 58.3% were aware of the adverse effects of climate change while only 42.3% could name 3 or more gases that contribute to it. About a third considered their CFP to be negligible. However, 86.3% elected to change their mode of transport to minimize their CFP. Over 90% considered issues of climate change the responsibility of the government while only 7% felt that it was the responsibility of the individual. The CFP of medical students was higher than the per capita national average while knowledge about it was inadequate. Educating medical students on climate change and emphasizing the importance of individual responsibility is likely to change behavior towards a greener lifestyle.

Keywords:
carbon footprint climate greenhouse Sri Lanka

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