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Teens, boomers find common ground on environment

Kids on mountain
A majority of kids and boomers expect environmental conditions around the world to deteriorate over the next 25 years  
April 21, 1998
Web posted at: 10:16 p.m. EDT (0216 GMT)

By Environmental News Network staff

(ENN) -- Today's teen-agers think a lot like baby boomers when it comes to the environment, according to a national survey released Monday designed to compare the environmental attitudes among today's youths with those who were teen-agers or young adults at the time of the first Earth Day in 1970.

The EarthView survey, conducted by Frederick Schneiders Research on behalf of the National 4-H Council and Honda, found that teen-agers and baby boomers agree that government and industry are falling short of their environmental obligations and that time is running out to protect the Earth from permanent environmental damage.

A majority of both generations also expect environmental conditions around the world to deteriorate over the next 25 years, but both generations say they will reach into their own pockets if that's what it takes to guarantee clean air and water.

Both teens and boomers also believe technological advances will help solve environmental problems.

According to economist and historian Neil Howe, "This research shows teens in the late 1990s are talking about mobilizing society to overcome large-scale challenges affecting their future, like the environment, and are showing rising optimism about their generation's ability to lead the charge."

"Teens are as committed to the environment as boomers ever were," said Howe, "though their choice of issues has shifted a bit to more emphasis on global warming and biodiversity, less on smog and overpopulation. This research rejects the old stereotype of apolitical kids who think the environment was just a personal, voluntary thing. In the late 1990s, we're seeing new teens with a whole new attitude."

Some highlights from the survey include:

  • 77 percent of teens and 67 percent of boomers agree that we are running out of time to save the world's environment from permanent damage.

  • 71 percent of teens and 67 percent of boomers agree corporations are not concerned about the environmental impact of their activities or products.

  • Along the same lines, 63 percent of teens and 64 percent of boomers agree government leaders are not concerned about the future impact of today's environmental problems.

  • 86 percent of teens and 71 percent of boomers agree today's teens will have the greatest impact on the future environment.

  • 81 percent of teens and 76 percent of boomers agree breakthroughs in technology will help solve environmental problems.

  • When it comes to paying to clean up the environment, 70 percent of teens were willing to pay up to 50 cents more a gallon for clean gasoline. Just 51 percent of boomers would agree to a 50 cents a gallon price hike.

  • Yet 82 percent of teens and 76 percent of boomers think government leaders should do more to control pollution from the oil and chemical industries, even if that increases the price of gas and oil.

This survey was conducted by Fleishman-Hillard Research between March 11-19 and 1,000 teen-agers -- ages 13-18 -- and 1,000 baby boomers between the ages of 40 and 55 were randomly polled. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Copyright 1998, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved


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