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Generations agree on green issues, poll shows

Toxic waste was the top environmental concern for 45- to 55-year-olds polled by Environmental Defense. The same issue ranked third for 18- to 25-year-olds  
ENN



April 13, 2000
Web posted at: 12:45 p.m. EDT (1645 GMT)

Age doesn't make much difference in attitudes people have about the environment, according to a national poll released Wednesday by Environmental Defense.

The poll, which arrives on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Earth Day April 22, compares the environmental attitudes of young adults with those of the baby-boom generation.

"Earth Day is a wonderful way to measure things," said Steve Cochran, legislative director for Environmental Defense. "At the first Earth Day the baby-boomer generation was the same age as today's 18- to 25-year-old group. There has been lots of discussion about disengagement among the [younger] generation. We wanted to see how much progress has been made in dealing with significant environmental challenges."

Water pollution is a leading concern for both age groups, although the baby-boomers picked toxic waste as the top environmental priority.

"When we started conducting the poll we expected to find significant differences between the generations. In the end we were struck by the similarities," said Cochran.

  MESSAGE BOARD
 

Among the 500 people in each age group that were polled, most believe that little progress has been made in the environmental arena since the last Earth Day. A majority of both generations believe environmental conditions are worse today than 30 years ago.

The poll showed that the younger generation is remarkably skeptical about progress in environmental issues. Some 62 percent believe environmental conditions are worse today.

"That's troubling because we have significant challenges ahead of us," said Cochran. "The basis for progress is the belief that progress can be made."

In Cochra's estimation, the current state of the environment should be viewed as "a remarkable government and public success story over the past 30 years."

"There's a real tendency in the environmental community to focus on what remains to be done. The poll might lead to a concern that in doing that we've left out the message of how much progress has been made," he said.

Both generations view individual action and education as the most powerful tools to tackle environmental problems. Neither group subscribes to the idea that environmental problems are so large that individuals can't make a difference.

Among 18- to 25-year-olds, 87 percent said individual action and public education about environmental problems and solutions are the most effective approaches to saving the planet. Some 84 percent of baby-boomers believe individual action is effective, and 88 percent believe public education can help address environmental issues.

Both generations believe globalization can work in favor of the environment. While less than a one-third of those polled in each generation have searched the Internet for environmental information, a majority in each group believes the Internet will have a positive effect on the environment.

"A clear challenge for the next 30 years is finding the ways — through the internet and other means — to engage these individuals on behalf of the planet," said Fred Krupp, executive director of Environmental Defense.

Conducted by SWR Worldwide, the poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved



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RELATED SITES:
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