The Generation X survey of about 3,000 adults, the fourth in a continuing series, found a small but statistically significant decline in Gen Xer's attention to climate change. In 2011, 16% said they followed the issue very or moderately closely, down from 22% in 2009.
The report, funded by the National Science Foundation, cites climate change's complexity, pressing economic concerns and "issue fatigue." It finds educated adults tend to be more concerned about the issue. It also finds partisan differences; nearly half of liberal Democrats were concerned or alarmed compared to zero percent of conservative Republicans.
Miller said he expected that, given climate change's expected impact on future generations, parents of young children would be more concerned than those without kids.
"Not so," he said. "Generation X adults without minor children were slightly more alarmed about climate change than were parents. The difference is small, but it is in the opposite direction than we expected." Miller said the report suggests that while there's broad awareness of climate change, many Gen Xers prefer to focus on more immediate issues such as jobs and schools.