Missing the Obvious: Why Today's College Student's Aren't Worried About the Environment

There is a long article at opinion journal.com today about today's college students' lack of interest in the environment compared with baby boomers'. 

Researchers found that, when surveyed decades ago, about a third of young baby boomers said it was important to become personally involved in programs to clean up the environment. In comparison, only about a quarter of young Gen Xers--and 21 percent of Millennials--said the same.

Meanwhile, 15 percent of Millennials said they had made no effort to help the environment, compared with 8 percent of young Gen Xers and 5 percent of young baby boomers.

The author, James Taranto, cites economic reasons for the lack of interest. He quotes several activists supposing that today's students are insufficiently indoctrinated. 

I believe both are incorrect. The reason young people are less interested in the environment than baby boomers is because the environment is so much cleaner and healthier than when we were children.

As amazing as it might seem to a 2012 college freshman, we had rivers in the United States that literally caught fire in the 1960's. There is less water pollution, less air pollution, and less visual pollution. In 1960, life expectancy was 69.7 years. Now, 78.7 years. 

Oh, and a generation ago, earth's temperature was rising. No global warming has occurred since 1998.  


  1. I think it might also be related to the fact that number of kids, teens, and young adults who hunt and fish has continued to decline for the past several decades. As the father of a 12-year old, I know my son has learned first hand about the environment by walking our rivers in pursuit of fish. He has a tremendous appreciation why taking care of the environment is important - namely, he actually spends time in it!

    Watching a bald eagle land 20 feet above your head, hearing the call of a loon on a northern Minnesota lake, or having an epic battle with a 4 lb smallmouth bass that you quickly catch and release will do more to teach a kid about the environment than ANY political action group or classroom indoctrination.


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