Study: For Millennials, It’s Not So Easy Being Green

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Because Millennials don’t already get enough flack from media and researchers, a new study says that today’s young Americans are not as environmentally concerned as past generations were at their age.

The results may seem surprising, considering that today’s young adults have grown up in the age of An Inconvenient Truth, and because the environment is often a top priority for young voters come election time. However, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology proves otherwise, as reported by the Associated Press.

Using two separate national surveys of high school seniors and college freshmen from 1966 through 2009, the study examined factors like “life goals, concern for others and civic orientation,” for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials.

According to the surveys, interest in conserving energy and saving the environment has been steadily declining; when Baby Boomers were at the Millennials’ age, a third of them said it was important to take personal action and be involved with programs to help the environment, 25 % of Gen Xers said the same, while only 21% of Millennials agreed.

(MORE: The New Generation Gap)

The numbers may be disheartening, but considering the conditions in which the Millennials grew up, is it that surprising? Perhaps those coming of age in the wake of global warming see climate change as inevitable?

“It’s not so much that they don’t think it’s important. They’re just worn out,” Mark Potosnak, an environmental science professor at DePaul University, told the AP. “It’s like poverty in a foreign country. You see the picture so many times, you become inured to it.”

With all the inefficiencies in government, it seems that Millennials might just be disenchanted with traditional modes of affecting change. Environmental action has become a more personal issue and life decision, with many young adults growing their own gardens, composting, using sustainable materials, and trying to conserve in their own way. (Oh, and don’t forget those ubiquitous online petitions.)

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