A new study published in the journal Science suggests that a growing number of young people are seriously concerned about global warming, and they’re not getting enough support from the mainstream media.
According to the study, about two-thirds of 18- to 25-year-olds surveyed said that they had heard a lot about climate science or had read some scientific articles about climate impacts, but had never heard of it.
More than a quarter of 18 to 25 year olds said they had read at least one article on climate change, compared to just 15% of those in their 50s.
The gap in information may be due to the fact that the survey was conducted between January and March, before the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report.
“Climate change has received very little media coverage in the United States,” study co-author Andrew Stott told Mashable.
“It is really important that the media and the public understand the magnitude of the threat and the risks associated with climate change.”
Stott, an associate professor of media at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said the gap may be down to the difficulty of communicating the risks of climate change.
“In our society we have a lot of misconceptions about climate,” he said.
“We have a very low opinion of our climate and we’re really afraid of it.”
Stotts research also showed that young people in the US were less aware of the dangers of CO2 emissions, which he said could also be a reason why they’re less likely to speak out about climate.
“The more information we have, the less we know,” he explained.
“And the more we know, the more it’s easier to avoid those kinds of problems.”
The results of the study suggest that the mainstream news outlets are not accurately reporting the scientific findings of climate science.
According to the authors, media outlets that focus on climate-related topics are typically less supportive of climate policy.
“In the context of our study, the coverage we were given was mostly about the risk of rising sea levels and the impacts of climate impacts,” Stott said.
“They were not looking at the issues of climate and the human impact on the planet, so they are not able to understand the implications of those impacts on the human condition.”
Stokner, who also works as a public policy professor at the George Washington University, said that climate change is a growing concern for the US, and there are some important ways to educate people about climate issues.
“It’s a very good example of how the mainstream coverage and the scientific information on climate is often lacking,” she said.