GOOD

Are Millennials Less Committed to the Environment Than Baby Boomers?

A new study says yes. But maybe it's just asking the wrong questions.


So, Millennials, are we green, or are we not?

We believe that climate change exists and that humans are causing it. We support alternative energy and stricter environmental regulations. We’ll pay more for environmentally friendly products.


But, according to a new study that surveyed high school seniors and college freshmen over multiple decades, we’re much less likely than our Baby Boomer parents or even apathetic Gen X'ers to take action to help the environment. We're three times more likely than our parents' generation to say we’ve made “no personal effort at all to help the environment." And while 15 percent of Boomers say they “make quite a bit of effort” to help the environment, only 9 percent of our generation does. Fewer of us cut down on electricity, turn down the thermostat during winter, or drive less in order to save energy.

The authors of the study wanted to test out competing theories about Millennials, defined in this case as anyone born after 1982. Are we “Generation Me”—self-centered, self-promoting narcissists—or are we “Generation We”—socially minded, community-focused do-gooders? The study supports the former theory on a range of issues, especially environmental ones, where “some of the largest declines” in social-mindedness were found.

I believe the researchers understated our commitment to the environment, but it’s difficult to dismiss their findings outright, in part because some of its other conclusions do line up with my own conception of Millennials. The study found that we care more about image and fame than previous generations, which rings true to me—although for Millennials, fame might mean “famous on the Internet” rather than world-renowned. We care more about what our colleagues think of us than previous generations did, and being a boss or a community leader is more important to us. We care less about “developing a meaningful philosophy of life,” which makes sense because that sounds lame—a problem Dustin Hoffman might have mulled in The Graduate while whiling his summer away in his parents’ backyard pool.

Still, I don’t believe Millennials feel as coolly towards the environment as the study indicates. For one thing, the surveys analyzed didn’t ask about the kinds of green solutions we’ve embraced. We love buying green products! We’re also more interested in an urban environmentalism, in living densely, sharing cars, riding bikes, and eating less meat. None of those actions alone will stop climate change, but they add up.

I’m most skeptical of the study’s conclusions, though, because it depends on surveys of 17- and 18-year-olds. If anything defines Millennials, it’s our tendency to delay adulthood compared to our parents' generation. We get married later; we rely on our helicopter parents; we’re so focused on getting to college or getting a decent job that as high school students and college freshmen we’re just beginning to think about our place in the world. This survey about green buying habits, for instance, shows a huge difference in opinion between Millennials younger than 18 and those older: The younger group doesn’t care about making green purchases, while the older one is fully committed.

We don’t want to get “involved in programs to clean up the environment,” because we spent all of elementary school involved in programs hoping to save the rainforest, only to find out the rainforest is worse off than ever. Instead, we want to support businesses we know don’t source their wood from Indonesian rainforests. We want to buy our electricity from solar and wind farms and work from home instead of driving to an office. These are ideas that barely existed a generation or two ago, so it’s hard to compare enthusiasm for them among Millennials, Gen X’ers and Boomers. But I don’t think we compare as unfavorably as this study indicates. At least, I hope we don’t.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user quinn.anya

Articles
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture

In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News