Modern Environmentalism, 1970 – 2012, RIP

The Washington Post essentially announced the death of the environmental movement today.  Oh, the headline doesn’t say quite that, though it should; the actual headline is “Young Americans Less Interested in the Environment Than Previous Generations.”

[A]n academic analysis of surveys spanning more than 40 years has found that today’s young Americans are less interested in the environment and in conserving resources — and often less civic-minded overall — than their elders were when they were young.

The findings go against the widespread belief that environmental issues have hit home with today’s young adults, known as Millennials, who have grown up amid climate change discussion and the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle.” The environment is often listed among top concerns of young voters.

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

Maybe it’s because environmentalism has become such a crashing bore?  I’ve been talking about “apocalypse fatigue” for a long time, but environmentalists can’t help being their own worst enemy.  More on this in a follow up post later.

One interesting tidbit in the story is this:

It is important to note that most of the survey data available for Millennials were collected before the country’s most recent recession hit.

In other words, this trend is likely not a temporary artifact of a bad economy.

Responses