Environmental literacy impacts students

You currently share this country with 313.9 million people. But, only about 37.6 million of those people are environmentally literate.

According to a recent NEETF/Roper survey that asked Americans basic questions about the environment, only 12 percent achieved the required results to be considered “environmentally literate” or proficiently knowledgeable about common environmental topics.


All of us rely on the same basic needs such as water, clean air, proper shelter, and nutritious foods (to name a few), the future of which are sadly being made by people who may hardly understand the environmental implications of their actions.

According to the study, 30 million Americans are community leaders, city planners, policy makers, waste managers, and various other government officials responsible for maintaining and creating a sustainable future for citizens and for the planet. If only 12 percent of the entire US population is environmentally literate, this leaves us with very few environmentally knowledgeable leaders.

By living under leaders who may not be well educated in environmental topics, we risk an overall decrease in our quality of life. Inefficient use of natural resources would increase overall spending to remedy damaged resources caused by environmental illiteracy.

Environmentally literate people are 5 percent to 50 percent more likely to partake in positive environmental actions, according to the study. Even at the lower end of the scale, these actions could translate to an immediate $75 billion worth of saved energy, water, and reduced healthcare in the US.

Luckily, environmental literacy is easy to attain, all it requires is knowledge of current environmental events and an understanding of how these events may affect you. For example, conservation efforts with CO2 emissions can preserve the ecosystems we live in.

As college students, we represent a new generation of leaders in all fields, each of which rely on the well-being of the environment to maintain a good quality of life. My goal is to encourage environmental literacy among students in order to warrant a wholesome future for both ourselves and for the world we share.

Collegian Editor at Large Brittany Messinger can be reached at community@collegian.com.