Do Millennials See Climate Change as More Than Just a Meme?
This paper compares the climate change public opinion of Millennials—born between the years 1981 and 2000—to those of other generations (Generation X, Baby Boomers, the Silent Generation). Recent social and political campaigns have hinged their tactics on the widespread idea that young people are more likely to act on climate change than older Americans. However, an analysis of 2009-2010 survey data from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication concluded that there is, “no predictable portrait of young people when it comes to global warming.” As these individuals in the Millennial generation have aged, begun to pay taxes, purchase goods and services, and vote in elections, it is important to look again at their climate change beliefs and attitudes. Using the survey data from the Yale/Mason Climate Change in the American Mind project (conducted October 20-November 1, 2017), I show that Millennials have similar or less engagement on global warming than other generations. Millennials are less likely to discuss global warming with their friends and family than older Americans. They are also just as likely to believe that global warming is happening and is personally important to them as other generations. Additionally, fewer Americans in 2017 believe that humans can reduce global warming successfully than did in 2010; Millennials are equally pessimistic as are other generations that we will address climate change.