Most millennials say they are worried about climate change
While some millennials are seen as apathetic toward saving the environment, others are not so indifferent when it comes to defying that label.
A 2015 study conducted by the Harvard Public Opinion Project argued that the millennial generation was no more aware of the environment than their parents.
Some millennials, however, are telling a different story.
A July online poll conducted by the Miami Montage team found that millennials surveyed are more aware of climate change than some surveys have shown. Sixty-four percent of millennials surveyed described climate change as a very serious problem, and 81 percent said their generation believes global warming is occurring.
And millennials are worried.
The poll found that 87 percent of millennials were either very or somewhat worried about climate change, a contrast to the 13 percent who were not worried at all.
Nika K. Hosseini, 20, has seen firsthand how active millennials are in helping to reduce climate change. As the executive chair of ECO Agency, a University of Miami student-run environmental club, Hosseini said that millennials are leading the climate change battle.
“Millennials are at the forefront of the fight,” said Hosseini, who also formed her own environmental awareness organization, the NKH Foundation.
“You can’t take the human out of nature – they are interconnected. Millennials are so much more active and understanding and empathetic – activists are begging for change.”
But not all research shows the same results.
A 2014 Pew Research Center study showed that millennials are apathetic and The Atlantic magazine dubbed them “deeply confused.” According to the Pew poll, only 32 percent of millennials would describe themselves as “environmentalists.”
The 2014 study is a contrast to the Miami Montage poll that found that 62 percent of millennials were either very active or somewhat active while only 39 percent of millennials were not very or not at all active in reducing climate change.
Iqra Ahmed, a 20-year-old student at the University of Florida, argued that the source of the confusion has more to do with how millennials are living their lives and less with their apathetic nature.
“I guess it comes down to action,” said Ahmed, who is researching carbon dioxide emissions in olive orchards in Spain.
“When someone considers themselves an activist, an environmentalist, it implies that you are doing something to combat the cause.
“It’s not enough to agree with renewable energy sources. It comes down to making changes in your lifestyle, to act in a more sustainable lifestyle.”
While millennials hope to change their lifestyle, a 2012 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study showed that millennials were about three times less likely than other generations to make an effort in helping the environment.
But Hosseini said she has never met a millennial who is not aware of climate change or its implications.
“The title doesn’t matter,” Hosseini said. “What matters is what you care about and what you do about it.”
She encourages apathetic millennials to learn more.
“The first step is to educate yourself. Take a step forward and look for information. If everyone moved forward together, we could change the world,” she said.
Ahmed wants millennials to make change happen.
“Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done now,” Ahmed said. “And millennials are in place to take over. We have to be the ones to implement a sustainable lifestyle, to create the change that will last for generations to come and help to preserve our planet.
“The older generations may already be used to a certain way of living, and it is up to us as the next in line to reform that in order to fight climate change.”