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Mar 20

Millennials aren’t always environmentally aware – Richmond Times-Dispatch: Guest-columnists

Millennials will someday be running our world. The world they face will have numerous environmental challenges. Will they be prepared, and are they thinking about such issues in preparation for the future?

My team conducted a survey of Richmond people between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. Results indicate that people in this age range were not aware of the climate change conference occurring in Paris, France. Only 20 percent knew of the conference, and 80 percent did not.

During the week of Nov. 28 through Dec. 5 last year, while the Paris Global Climate Conference was occurring, my team surveyed 213 millennials, males and females, for their knowledge of and concern for environmental issues. The survey was conducted in the Richmond metro area.

We were surprised that most of the sampled group was unaware of the international conference on climate change. Coverage of this event had been on the television nearly every day, both national and local stations, and there were numerous articles in the newspapers and from online news sources. I conclude from this data, that millennials are not paying attention to such issues with much regularity.

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Another question in the survey asked, “Do you think about current environmental conditions?” Fifty-three percent said yes, 40 percent said sometimes.

For another question — “Do your friends talk about conditions in the natural environment?” — 26 percent said yes, 44 percent said sometimes, 30 percent said never or almost never.

When asked, “Are you worried about the environment in your future?” 63 percent said yes and 35 percent said somewhat. Climate change was the most common concern, mentioned by 79 percent of the respondents.

The Atlantic (October 2014) reports that millennials are “curious and awestruck” about science. Being the most educated generation, they should be aware of the environmental issues.

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Neil Howe, the noted author and demographer, says the millennials, broadly defined as those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, have strong knowledge in math, which should make them able to analyze and find solutions for our environmental problems. Howe also states that they want to make our world and community better — so the skills and motivations are there.

But only 32 percent consider themselves “environmentalists,” according to Pew Research. So the issue at hand is: What will pro-science organizations need to do better to engage millennials in the environmental issues?

Social media is a way to reach them, but the messaging needs to be spot-on. Science and scientists need to take advantage of the opportunities to reach millennials when they open their communications channels to receive the messaging.

Perhaps if we keep sending out messages, like is done into deep space, eventually the millennials will pay attention.

Source: Millennials aren’t always environmentally aware – Richmond Times-Dispatch: Guest-columnists

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