Me Generation: Earth? Whatever


Dadgumit, young’uns just don’t care about the environment the way they used to.

A review of forty years of youth surveys showed that the current young generation, called Millennials, have the lowest amount of interest in the environment and social problems compared to Gen-X and the Baby Boomers, reported the AP.

“I was shocked,” one of the study’s authors, Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, said in the AP article. “We have the perception that we’re getting through to people. But at least compared to previous eras, we’re not.”

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The study used two long running polls, the American Freshman and the Monitoring the Future projects, to analyzes trends in young people’s attitudes.

According to the the study, Millennials continued a trend towards apathy and narcissism seen between earlier generations, but the slide was not as steep as it was from the activist Boomers to the slacker Gen-Xers.

Several decades ago, when Baby Boomers were interviewed about a third of them said it was important to become personally involved in cleaning up the environment. Whereas only about a quarter of young Gen-Xers felt that way. The percentage dropped to 21 for Millennials.

On the other hand, 15 percent of Millennials reported that they made no personal effort to help the environment, compared with 8 percent of young Gen Xers and 5 percent of young baby boomers.

On the homefront, 78 percent of young baby boomers and 71 percent of young Gen Xers said they try to cut back on heating fuel use at home. Only 56 percent of Millennials said they made the same effort.

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“I hope that young people see these findings as a challenge rather than a criticism,” Twenge said, adding that the lack of interest in environmental issues isn’t exclusive to young people.

“This is a change in overall culture,” she said, “and young people reflect the changes in culture.”

The research was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.


Young AmeriCorps Emergency Team (ERT) members based in Mobile, Alabama, remove debris from a home destroyed by an EF4 tornado that struck Macon County, Tennessee (Tim Tyson, FEMA, Wikimedia Commons)

A Millennial-aged teen singing (calmdownlove, Wikimedia Commons)

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