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Boomers and Gen Z are both worried about extreme weather, but one is less concerned with climate change

In a new Fast Company-Harris Poll, growing concerns about atypical weather spanned generations, while older groups appeared less likely to make the climate connection.

Boomers and Gen Z are both worried about extreme weather, but one is less concerned with climate change
[Source photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash, C. G./Unsplash, JOHN TOWNER/Unsplash, Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash, NASA]

Extreme weather, due to climate change, impacts the world more and more regularly. From the hottest month in history to air-quality disruptions stemming from unprecedented expanses of fires, there’s no denying that the weather is disrupting daily life.

And according to an exclusive new Fast Company-Harris Poll, just about everyone is unsettled.

Asked about extreme weather and other climate-related related situations, most respondents to the July poll said they were worried, and those who expressed such deep concerns about weather and climate spanned four generations: baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z adults.

When it comes to extreme weather specifically, the consensus was clear, with 77% millennials and Gen X, 76% of Gen Z, and 75% of boomers all saying they were concerned about atypical or unseasonable weather. Similarly, a majority of each group reported that they are more concerned about extreme weather now than they were a year ago, with Gen Z leading the category at 65%.

The groups were also asked how concerned they were about specific environmental issues, such as pollution. In that regard, baby boomers were the most concerned generation at 84%, followed by Gen X and millennials, who tied at 82%, and then Gen Z at 81%.

Interestingly, it seems that younger respondents had a much easier time drawing a connection between climate change and adverse weather conditions. When respondents were asked specifically about their concerns regarding “climate change overall,” the numbers took a dip—most notably for baby boomers, with 72% of that generation saying were concerned. Concerns about climate change grew with younger generations, with 74% of Gen Xers and 77% of millennials saying they were concerned. For adult Gen Z, a notably higher 82% said they were concerned about climate change overall and 47% said they are “very concerned.”

Likewise, Gen Z reported being the most concerned in every category when the language “climate change” was used, while boomers ranked the least concerned.

The concerns for impacts of extreme weather were very real across the board, however. When asked what issues from extreme weather they were most concerned about, boomers were actually more concerned with the long-term health of the environment (34%) than the other groups. Each age group reported that the weather had become more severe where they live over the past year, with boomers responding the highest in that category at 47%.

While concerns were common, the poll’s younger respondents appeared to be the most anxious: 40% of adult Gen Zers said they or someone they know had experienced feeling anxious over extreme weather, while 35% of millennials and 24% of Gen X felt similarly.

Remarkably, only 18% of boomers said they or someone they know had ever experienced anxiety over extreme weather. So, while they know it’s happening—and are more worried than they were a year ago—it’s not impacting their mental health in quite the same way as it is for younger generations.

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