The fading flame of hope: the climatic and environmental emergency in the eyes of Polish pupils and students
PDF (English)

Słowa kluczowe

self-fulfilling prophecy
environmental justice
ecological justice

Jak cytować

Cywiński, A. (2023). The fading flame of hope: the climatic and environmental emergency in the eyes of Polish pupils and students. Ruch Prawniczy, Ekonomiczny I Socjologiczny, 85(3), 183–199.


The author’s motivation for undertaking this research was his own anxieties; anxieties arising from the global ecological and environmental emergency. The aim of my research was to determine young people’s awareness of the climate emergency and their agency (possible actions) related to remedying this phenomenon. In conducting the research, a mixed quantitative and qualitative strategy was used with an online survey, thus examining the opinions of the respondents. The text analyses the answers to questions eliciting opinions on the climate and environmental emergency (a term used in one of the European Parliament’s relevant resolutions), with particular regard to the possibility of stopping the aforementioned crisis. Respondents were primary and secondary pupils, and university students. Among the conclusions, the following should be singled out: 90.3% of respondents agree that we are dealing with an ecological and environmental emergency, but only 12.5% believe that we will stop the crisis, while 29.8% do not, and 57.7% do not know. Most importantly, the analysis of young people’s statements reveals the pessimistic nature of their opinions, revealing the fading hope of remedying the emergency. In combination with the literature review, this sends an alarming message about the need to act not only to deal with the crisis but also in the field of information addressed to all social groups. In summary, there is evident fear that predictions of disaster may turn out to be self-fulfilling prophecies (as defined by Robert K. Merton). The demonstrated ability of young people to influence politicians offers us a hope that we might prevent such a disaster. For such action to succeed, it needs to take place both inside and outside of schools and universities.
PDF (English)


Antronico, L., Coscarelli, R., De Pascale, F., Di Matteo, D. (2020). Climate change and social perception: a case study in southern Italy. Sustainability 12(17): 6985. DOI:

Baiardi, D., Morana, C. (2020). Climate change awareness: empirical evidence for the European Union. University of Milan Bicocca Department of Economics, Management and Statistics Working Paper No. 426 (No. 426). DOI:

Baldassare, M.A., Katz, C. (1992). The personal threat of environmental problems as predictor of environmental practices. Environment and Behavior 24(5): 602–616. DOI:

Carmi, N., Bartal, E. (2014). Perception of environmental threat in the shadow of war: the effect of future orientation. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal 20(3): 872–886. DOI:

Carmi, N., Kimhi, S. (2015). Further than the eye can see: psychological distance and perception of environmental threats. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal 21(8): 2239–2257. DOI:

Center for Citizenship Education, Poland (2020). Final report/Raport końcowy.

Clay, J. (2021). Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet. Documentary. USA.

De Rose, A., Testa, M.R. (2014). The ecological awareness and fear for climate change in Europe. Annali del Dipartimento di metodi e modelli per l’economia, il territorio e la finanza: 113–135.

Dettori, M., Pittaluga, P., Busonera, G., Gugliotta, C., Azara, A., Piana, A., Arghittu, A., Castiglia, P. (2020). Environmental risks perception among citizens living near industrial plants: a cross-sectional study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17(13): 4870. DOI:

Fleury-Bahi, G. (2008). Environmental risk: perception and target with local versus global evaluation. Psychological Reports 102(1): 185–193. DOI:

Fothergill, A., Hughes, J., Scholey, K. (2020). David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. Documentary, production: USA.

Fransson, N., Gärling, T. (1999). Environmental concern: conceptual definitions, measurement methods, and research findings. Journal of Environmental Psychology 19(4): 369–382. DOI:

Gaebel, M., Stoeber, H. (2021, 27 May). Higher education for a greener Europe.

García-Mira, R., Real, J.E., Romay, J. (2005). Temporal and spatial dimensions in the perception of environmental problems: an investigation of the concept of environmental hyperopia. International Journal of Psychology 40(1): 5–10. DOI:

Hagen, B., Middel, A., Pijawka, D. (2015). European climate change perceptions: public support for mitigation and adaptation policies. Environmental Policy and Governance 26(3): 170–183. DOI:

Harari, Y.N. (2019). 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. London: Vintage.

IPCC (2019). Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Jaspers, K. (1959). The Idea of the University. Boston: Beacon Hill.

Juraszek, D. (2020). Antropocen dla początkujących. Klimat, środowisko, pandemie w epoce człowieka [Anthropocene for Beginners: Climate, Environment, Pandemics in the Age of Man]. Łódź: Liberte!

Kalistová, A., Huttmanová, E. (2020). Attitudes to climate change from the perspective of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Človek a spoločnosť. Internetový časopis pre pôvodné teoretické a výskumné štúdie z oblasti spoločenských vied 23(4): 32–56. DOI:

Kantar Poland (2019). Humans attack.

Kantar Poland (2020). Humans attack.

Kim, S.Y., Wolinsky-Nahmias, Y. (2014). Cross-National Public Opinion on Climate Change: The Effects of Affluence and Vulnerability. Global Environmental Politics 14 (1): 79–106. DOI:

Kyselá, E., Tvinnereim, E., Ivarsflaten, E. (2018). Delaying the action: climate change as a distant threat? University of Bergen. Working Paper Series 2018: 1.

Labarre, H., Felonneau, M.L. (2022). Environmental threat in France: two studies testing the effect of threatening messages on system justification and environmental denial. Frontiers in Psychology 13: 891329. DOI:

Lahsen, M., Couto, G.D., Lorenzoni, I. (2019). When climate change is not blamed: the politics of disaster attribution in international perspective. Climatic Change 158: 213–233. DOI:

Lorenzoni, I., Pidgeon, N.F. (2006). Public views on climate change: European and USA perspectives. Climatic Change 77(1/2): 73–95. DOI:

Lorenzoni, I., Pidgeon, N.F., O’Connor, R.E. (2005). Dangerous climate change: the role for risk research. Risk Analysis 25(6): 1387–1398. DOI:

MacDonald, E., Milfont, T., Gavin, M. (2015). Thinking globally but not acting locally? Expert and public perceptions of environmental threats and conservation actions. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 20(2): 123–132. DOI:

Malm, A. (2021, 18 Nov.). The moral case for destroying fossil fuel infrastructure. The Guardian.

Markiewka, T.S. (2021). Zmienić świat raz jeszcze. Jak wygrać walkę o klimat [Change the World Once Again: How to Win the Climate Battle]. Warsaw: Czarna Owca.

Merton, R.K. (1968). Social Theory and Social Structure. New York: The Free Press.

Moyano, E., Paniagua, A., Lafuente, R. (2008). Environmental policy, public opinion and global climate change in Southern Europe: the case of Andalusia. The Open Environmental Journal 2: 62–70. DOI:

Napiórkowski, M. (2022). Naprawić przyszłość. Dlaczego potrzebujemy lepszych opowieści, żeby uratować świat [Fix the Future: Why We Need Better Stories to Save the World]. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie.

Petersen, L.C. (2019). Ice on fire. Documentary. Croatia, France, Germany, USA, Costa Rica.

Pidgeon, N. (2012). Public understanding of, and attitudes to, climate change: UK and international perspectives and policy. Climate Policy 12(sup01): 85–106. DOI:

Ramsey, J.L. (2020). It’s OK to Panic. Documentary. Poland.

Ramsey, J.L. (2021). Hope Dies Last. Documentary. Poland.

Raynault, M., Borgeat, F. (1994). La perception des menaces environnementales par les enfants et les adolescents. Canadian Journal of Public Health = Revue canadienne de sante publique 85(1): 56–58.

Richardson, M. (2018). Climate trauma, or the affects of the catastrophe to come. Environmental Humanities 10(1): 1–19. DOI:

Rosling, H., Rosling, O., Rosling-Rönnlund, A. (2018). Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about The World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. New York: Flatiron Books.

Schlosberg, D. (2007). Defining Environmental Justice: Theories, Movements, and Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI:

World Economic Forum (2023). Global Risks Report 2023. Cologny, Geneva: WEF.

World Wildlife Fund (2018). 12 Small Acts to Save Our World. London: Century.