Youth divide on climate?

Over the weekend, about 10,000 young climate activists were in Washington D.C. to push for federal action on climate change. The Power Shift conference included a series of keynote speeches and workshops on grassroots organizing.

One might be tempted to conclude from the large turnout that America’s youth are more informed about climate science. But new poll results released Monday show that isn’t necessarily the case.

The survey, from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, gave fewer teens (25%) a passing grade on climate change knowledge than adults (30%).

However (and not at all surprisingly), it also found that teens were more likely to give an “I don’t know” response to a question. That meant for some questions, minus those responses, the proportions of right vs. wrong answers were pretty much the same for teens and adults.

And while fewer teens correctly answered that most scientists think global warming is happening, they were less likely to say “there is a lot of disagreement” and twice as likely to say they didn’t know enough to answer the question.

Some other highlights:

  • 43% of teens are somewhat or very worried about global warming, versus 57% of adults
  • 39% of teens said phases of the moon can affect global temperatures, versus 44% of adults
  • 25% of teens, and 19% of adults, didn’t know whether solar energy is a fossil fuel
  • 71% of teens, versus 67% of adults, correctly answered that carbon dioxide is produced by burning fossil fuels
  • The poll surveyed 517 teens age 13-17 and 1,513 adults. Read the full results for more.

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