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Ahead of his meeting with Putin, President Trump tells CBS News the European Union a foe. Also on the Monday rundown: calls in Congress to probe women miscarrying in ICE custody: concerns over a pre-existing conditions lawsuit; and Native Americans find ways to shift negative stereotypes.

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Aging Alters Americans' Support of Environmental Spending

As people age, new research shows they are less likely to embrace pro-environmental views or donate to these causes, although there certainly are exceptions. (pri.org)
As people age, new research shows they are less likely to embrace pro-environmental views or donate to these causes, although there certainly are exceptions. (pri.org)
July 9, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A new study suggests most people don't stay environmentally conscious as they get older.

Researchers analyzed data from the General Social Survey, a large questionnaire that's been around since the 1970s. They found folks become less willing to fund environmental protections as they age, meaning support for protecting the planet has remained virtually flat over the last few decades.

Erik Johnson, a sociology professor at Washington State University who coauthored the report, said the findings run counter to the idea that nature-loving young people, as they age, will replace older folks without those interests.

"As you get older, you just tend to become less supportive of environmental spending. You're less willing to spend money to protect the environment,” Johnson said. “And whether you were born in the the 1930s or the 1960s or '70s doesn't seem to matter. Just that aging process changes people's opinions."

Johnson noted this isn't the case with other issues, such as premarital sex. In that case, opinions are closely tied to when people were born. He added that, in general, people back spending to protect the environment and support this issue above most others.

The shift may be due in part to the larger tax burden people face as they age. But Johnson and his coauthor speculate it may also be that many environmental groups target their recruiting efforts at young people.

And, Johnson said, young people are more likely to find messages encouraging them to protect the environment - such as through recycling programs at schools. For working adults, that may not be the case.

"Why do people sort of seem to lose interest in it? Well partly, it might just be it's sort of dropping off their radar. It's just not something that's part of their daily life anymore,” he suggested. “In school, you're always exposed to environmental messages."

The analysis suggests people should do away with the idea that younger generations will replace older generations and swell the number of environmentalists. It's more likely that the movement will grow through a socialization process, where people are exposed more to these ideas.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD