NEW YORK — Climate change may forever linger as a hot debate among political parties, but it seems most Americans believe it’s the very reason there won’t be a forever at all. A new survey shows that three-quarters of adults agree that climate change will cause the extinction of humanity.
In fact, nearly half of the 2,000 Americans over 18 surveyed feel climate change will doom the planet within the next 200 years. Shockingly, many young adults think 200 years is a generous number. The survey finds that one in five millennials actually believes that climate change will bring about the end of the world — during their lifetime.
Perhaps more realistically, more than half of the participants think that while the world won’t end while they’re still alive, they do expect to see major changes from a warming planet — such as dramatically higher sea levels. One in three even believes they’ll likely wind up moving to another city because of climate change effects at some point. Similarly 60 percent say they wouldn’t buy a home somewhere where such effects are more likely.
While nearly all respondents (96 percent) admit they’re worried about climate change to some degree, one in four say it’s their biggest fear — with millennials twice as likely to feel that way. A fifth of millennials say they won’t even have children because they fear the condition of the planet for future generations.
“Though debate continues about the science of climate change, consumers continue to carry anxiety and stress about how it will impact their future,” says Jeff Meyers, Chief Operating Officer for The Recycling Partnership, which commissioned the study, in a statement. “More than ever, we need the next generation to lead the charge in reducing the potential impacts of climate change.”
Millennials do seem more willing to make greater changes for the sake of the planet, with 9 in 10 saying they recycle to some degree. Forty-two percent say they’d take a $10,000 annual pay cut to live in a world without fossil fuels, compared to just 20 percent of adults over 39. And the vast majority — 85 percent — think corporations should put at least 1 percent of their profits to aid the cause.
“Millennials want to live in a world of less waste,” says Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership. “Whether that means wearing clothing made of recycled fiber, biking to work, or purchasing products made of recyclable materials, they are more conscious of the impacts their individual actions and the actions of companies have on creating a sustainable future. More than ever, we need highly-valued public services, like recycling, to continue to drive waste reduction and lower our carbon footprint. So, what are we wasting for? Our future depends on it.”
The survey was conducted by market research firm OnePoll in April 2019.