Members of Generation X are pretty indifferent when it comes to climate change finds a University of Michigan report released this week.
According to researchers, US Gen Xers (generally those born from 1961 to 1981) are either unaware about climate change or their interest in it has waned.
"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 Dr. Jon D. Miller, from the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan, author of "The Generation X Report."
The new "Generation Report”
In a bid to track the views of Gen-Xers on various subjects, scientists from the University of Michigan conducted a Longitudinal Study of American Youth.
The study is the fourth in a series following Gen Xers since they were high school students in 1987. The new "Generation Report," examines the responses of some 3,000 Gen Xers (now 36 or 39 years old) about climate change each year from 2009 to 2011.
In 2008, nearly 28 percent of the participants were “very interested” in climate change issues, 55 percent “moderately interested” while 17 percent said they were not interested at all.
In the most recent survey, only 16 percent of the respondents said they followed the issue “very closely” or “moderately closely,” a drop from 22 per cent in 2009.
Miller said, "We found a small but statistically significant decline between 2009 and 2011 in the level of attention and concern Generation X adults expressed about climate change. In 2009, about 22 percent said they followed the issue of climate change very or moderately closely. In 2011, only 16 percent said they did so.”
The percentage of people who did “not closely” follow the issue of climate change rose from 45 percent in 2009 to 51 percent in the latest results.
In addition, around five percent of the interviewees in 2011 were alarmed about the issue while another 18 percent exhibited some concerns.
However, 66 percent admitted that they aren't sure that global warming is happening, and approximately 10 percent didn’t believe global warming is occurring.
"This is an interesting and unexpected profile," Miller said. "Few issues engage a solid majority of adults in our busy and pluralistic society, but the climate issue appears to attract fewer committed activists -- on either side -- than I would have expected.
Adults with more education were more concerned about global warming. Nearly 50 percent of the Liberal Democrats surveyed were alarmed or concerned as opposed to none of the conservative Republicans.
The study found a lower level of concern in parents than childless Gen Xers. This was surprising given that kids will have to deal with a battered climate in future.
Miller said, "I think it's really just the fact that we have 24 hours in a day, and running a family these days is a very time-consuming task.
"They're just not allocating large amounts of time to any public policy issue, but the ones they do choose to follow tend to be more local things like schools, or big things like the economy."