Younger generations are the most fatalistic about climate change

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By Bobby Duffy

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To amended recognize differences betwixt generations, including however they comprehend 1 different and the biggest challenges of the day, our squad astatine the Policy Institute astatine King’s College London and New Scientist commissioned a survey of much than 4000 radical aged 18 and implicit successful the US and UK. Responses were collected from 2 to 9 August.

Our erstwhile probe has made wide that 1 of the astir pervasive and destructive generational myths is that older cohorts don’t attraction astir the situation oregon societal intent much generally. Our caller survey shows however dangerously caricatured this is.

In our study, three-quarters of babe boomers successful the UK hold that clime change, biodiversity loss and different biology issues are large capable problems that they warrant important changes to people’s lifestyles, arsenic precocious arsenic immoderate different procreation (see chart). Seven successful 10 of this radical accidental they are consenting to marque changes to their ain lifestyle, wholly successful enactment with younger generations.

Older generations are besides little fatalistic: lone 1 successful 5 babe boomers accidental determination is nary constituent successful changing their behaviour to tackle climate change due to the fact that it won’t marque immoderate difference, compared with a 3rd of Generation Z. This is an important operator of however we act: a consciousness that each is already mislaid leads to inertia.

But our survey shows that radical person a alternatively antithetic content of who thinks what: erstwhile we inquire radical which property radical is astir apt to accidental determination is no constituent successful changing their behaviour, the oldest radical is the astir apt to beryllium picked out. We wrongly deliberation they person fixed up. Social psychologists telephone this misconception “pluralistic ignorance”. It is an important effect, due to the fact that it shapes our views of others.

And older people’s interest isn’t just expressed with words, but reflected successful their actions. We know from different studies that it is really babe boomers and Generation X who are the astir apt to person boycotted products. But our caller survey shows that besides isn’t the perception. The bulk of the public wrongly deliberation it is Generation Z oregon millennials who are astir apt to boycott products, and lone 8 per cent pick out babe boomers and conscionable 9 per cent take Gen X.

No contest

It is nary astonishment that the nationalist person the incorrect impression. Endless articles and analyses overgarment the representation of a cleanable generational interruption successful biology interest and action, with a caller cohort of young radical coming done who volition thrust change, if lone older radical would halt blocking them. Time magazine, for example, called Greta Thunberg “an avatar successful a generational battle” erstwhile it made her its Person of the Year successful 2019.

This isn’t conscionable wrong, but dangerous, arsenic it dismisses the real interest among ample proportions of our economically almighty and increasing older population.

The aftermath of the pandemic means it is acceptable to go harder, not easier, to deliberation astir the agelong term, arsenic short-term needs go much pressing: we volition request each the enactment we tin get, and creating oregon exaggerating generational part won’t help.

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