Climate Change: Generation X Attitudes, Interest, and Understanding

A report from a University of Michigan longitudinal study finds that while Gen Xers are highly educated and scientifically literate, there is a general lack of concern and understanding about, and attention to, climate change.

The study is part of an annual survey that examines a national sample of Generation X young adults about their awareness and concern about climate change.

WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE A LOOK:

The study finds that "the young adults in Generation X who will have to deal with these issues during the remaining decades of their lives are genuinely conflicted on the issue."

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

In 2011, fewer GenXers followed climate change closely compared to 2009 and more were likely to pay little or no attention to the issue.

Approximately one in five GenXers are concerned about climate change (a level that hasn't changed significantly over the last few years).

The percentage of GenXers who feel well informed about climate change declined from 16% in 2009 to 11% in 2011.

Small segments of Generation X are actively engaged in support of the issue.

GenXers were uncertain about the connection between fossil fuel use and climate impacts.

Only 14% strongly agreed that we're in thee first stages of climate change.

The complex nature of climate change has let to uncertainty among GenXers.

Researchers used the Yale and George Mason "Six Americas" research to estimate the proportion of GenXers in each of the six categories and found that 41% were in the "Disengaged" group who are unsure if climate change is happening and have given little though about it.

The researchers were surprised to find that GenXers with young children were not more alarmed about climate change than their counterparts.

GenXers with higher levels of science literacy were more likely to be alarmed or concerned about climate change.

GenXers with higher levels of education were more likely to recognize the importance of the problem, but many are focused on more immediate issues like jobs and schools for their children.

A range of information and media sources (including online sources and interpersonal conversations) contribute to GenXers understanding of and views on climate change.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Montage Communications

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Publication Date: 
2012
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