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A little theory I'm working on - Her Most Regal Majesty, the Queen of Snark
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sesquipedality
sesquipedality
A little theory I'm working on
I theorise that people born after 1980 are (on average) massively more worried about climate change than those born before. I further theorise that this is directly correlated to the fact that those of us older than this were far more scared of nuclear Armageddon than environmental Armageddon in our formative years.
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Comments
matildabj From: matildabj Date: January 11th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
You may be on to something.
imc From: imc Date: January 11th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was incredibly scared of nuclear Armageddon in the early 1980s. Whether that's correlated with attitudes to climate change I'm not sure.
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: January 11th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I used to have terrible nightmares about nuclear war, mostly thanks to reading apocalyptic novels. I have thought this for a long time, but I'm not sure where the lower cut-off is for caring. My teenage cousins don't seem to be bothered in the slightest about climate change, for instance.
From: rmc28 Date: January 11th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Counterexample: I was scared of nuclear armageddon growing up. I am now scared of climate change. I was born before 1980.
uitlander From: uitlander Date: January 11th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ditto.

I think the thing that scares me the most about climate change is having been a researcher in a subject where understanding the impact of climate change was pretty essential, I can still remember the abject shock at reading the early papers that told us just how fast climate change had happened in the past (big switches in ~10 yeasr), and then looking at the overwhelming way in which it transformed the landscape. Most people have no concept of what a 1 degree change actually means for their environment, and like most of my peer group I can already see the evidence of it happening around me. Insects have one of the most rapid response rate, and I noticed the local insect fauna switching a few years ago. My environmental scientist friends confirmed that they had also noticed this, and most of us think the momentum is already too strong to stop. It's down to mitigation now.
From: vyvyan Date: January 11th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Likewise. Indeed, there was a period in the late 80s, when my family were reading Ben Elton's Stark and similar fare, when I was simultaneously very scared of both.
karohemd From: karohemd Date: January 11th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I grew up/was in school, the main worry after nuclear armageddon (or just the Cold War escalating/the Russians invading, being that close to the Iron Curtain) was pollution, too but the baddies then were sulphur compounds (from diesel cars and brown coal fired power plants), NOx and other exhaust fumes. The ideal engine was one that produced only CO2 and water because they were considered inert. A bit later, it was CFCs. It was more about quality of life than climate change.
From: pir Date: January 11th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was born in the early '70s. I wasn't particularly scared of nuclear Armageddon, it was (and still is) utterly out of my control so not something I could affect so not worth worrying about.

The environment problems now are something closer to home, more likely, I have an affect on and I'm more adult so it does cause me more worry.
beckyc From: beckyc Date: January 11th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Out of curiosity, why 1980? I just ask because AIDS was the boogeyman* for me when I was little, not nuclear armgageddon. I was born before 1980, but not sufficiently before for me to remember any of the 70s.

*Oh, and, of course, the Mummies and dinosaurs chasing me home from the museum, but I gather that's quite normal for small kids in whatever year ;-).
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: January 12th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Berlin Wall fell in 1990. This means that communism wasn't a large factor in the life of anyone under 10 at that time.

Of course I'm talking in generalisations. I was just wondering why climate change doesn't scare or bother me that much.
mentalfirewall From: mentalfirewall Date: January 12th, 2010 12:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Born after 1980 but Nuclear Armageddon is still more terrifying to me than Climate change. Maybe because it's out of my control so I worry about it more and perhaps due to it's sudden impact but lingering problems... while with climate change there are (theoretically) things that can be done and we can all (again theoretically) do our part and there's no sudden death by incineration or lingering radiation sickness.
gareth_rees From: gareth_rees Date: January 12th, 2010 12:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe it's because young people are going to have to cope with the effects of climate change, whereas us oldies are most likely going to be dead before things get really bad. Sorry, kids, we burned all the oil and you're going to have to deal with the consequences.
akttog From: akttog Date: January 12th, 2010 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)
That's it. Nuclear Armageddon is much more immediate. We'll be wading in less and less shallow water for centuries before we actually die if we don't blow us/each other up before...
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: January 12th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
See the problem I have with that sort of thinking is that *we* didn't consciously do anything. Nor would the younger generation have done any different with our upbringing and environment. Blame is pointless. Dealing with the situation less so.
queenortart From: queenortart Date: January 12th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I remember being extremely worried about being nuked particularly in around '84 or so. The BBC showed Threads on the TV just about the time I went for an interview at Sheffield to do Microbiology and then came home and saw the BBC bombing the city!

That's not to say I'm not concerned about climate change but it doesn't leave me shit scared.
pjc50 From: pjc50 Date: January 12th, 2010 09:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Something in that I think.

There's also some lessons about the limits of what is achievable with political coordination, control, and activism; against the nuclear threat there was SALT and the NPT, which had some effect but did not solve the problem.
woodpijn From: woodpijn Date: January 12th, 2010 10:04 am (UTC) (Link)
George Monbiot agrees: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/02/climate-change-denial-clive-james Except he puts the cut-off earlier than you do.

"The Pew report found that people over 65 are much more likely than the rest of the population to deny that there is solid evidence that the earth is warming, that it's caused by humans, or that it's a serious problem. This chimes with my own experience. Almost all my fiercest arguments over climate change, both in print and in person, have been with people in their 60s or 70s."

As you'd expect, he and his supporters reckon it's because the old are closer to death, and so either won't be around to see the results, or find reminders of mortality upsetting; and his opponents reckon it's because the old have seen so many other scares and doom-threats that they've become sceptical of new ones.

sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: January 12th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interestingly I think that's part of what I was thinking about when I made the comment. We were told the world would end. It didn't. It made us more sceptical. Frankly if the scientists say global warming will happen, I believe that. I also believe humanity as a whole is an ingeniously self-healing system.

Edited at 2010-01-12 07:40 pm (UTC)
eldritchreality From: eldritchreality Date: January 12th, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Its our Armageddon and we'll cry if we want to!
neophyte_13 From: neophyte_13 Date: January 12th, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
born in 1981 I was always more terrified of environmental disasters than man made ones, climate change may be down to man but it's the environmental symptoms that are terrifying. Just look at our warmer summers and colder winters. The fact that we can clearly look at our environment and see how much it's changed since I was born, even the changes since my 8 year old son was born. He's already more worried about things like volcanoes and earthquakes than anything else.
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