Generation X Surprisingly Unconcerned About Climate Change
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
The generation defined by Tupac’s “Me Against the World” and Nirvana’s “Nevermind” is still slacking when it comes to saving the environment, according to a new report by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.
The survey of about 3,000 adults between 32 to 52 years old found that only 5 percent are “alarmed” and 18 percent are “concerned” about climate change. About two-thirds of Gen Xers surveyed last year said they aren’t sure global warming is happening and 9 percent said they don’t believe the Earth is in the first stages of global warming or climate change.
“Most Generation Xers are surprisingly disengaged, dismissive or doubtful about whether global climate change is happening and they don’t spend much time worrying about it,” said Jon Miller, author of “The Generation X Report” and political researcher for the university.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the survey indicated that those of us who saw “Reality Bites” as a seminal film are also disconnected from the larger debate surrounding climate change. Around 41 percent of respondents said they “know little about it” or “have given little thought to it.”
So why are Baby Boomers’ kids basically like, whatever?
The report, which was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), said the complex nature of the climate change issue, more pressing economic concerns and overexposure of the issue in the media have contributed to these attitudes.
Miller also noted that the more educated respondents were on climate change issues, the more likely they were to be concerned. The study also found varying attitudes based on political leanings; with half of liberal Democrats and zero percent of conservative Republicans saying they were concerned.
“There are clearly overlapping levels of concern among partisans of both political parties,” Miller said. “But for some individuals, partisan loyalties may be helpful in making sense of an otherwise complicated issue.”
A Gen Xer’s peer group could also be another indicator of their attitude on global warming. The study found that friends, co-workers and family members were among the most common sources of information for many looking to inquire about climate change issues.
Miller considered the results of the Gen X survey an indicator for what their attitudes might be toward other long-term, complex social-scientific issues. He warned in the report that this segment of society should make themselves more aware of certain policy decisions and their lasting implications.
“In several important ways, the climate change issue is symbolic of the kinds of political issues that will increasingly dominate the national agenda in this century,” he wrote.
The latest survey also reinforces that generation’s stereotype as detached and disillusioned by their formative years—which included the Cold War, the stock market crash of 1987 and the subsequent recession of the early 90s.
A 1997 study conducted by the New American Dream found that 61 percent of Gen Xers agreed that “worrying about the future is a major source of stress” and over 75 percent said, “no matter what I plan for the future, when I finally get there, it’s always something different.”