Climate Action

Children could influence their parents views on climate change

High school students  join with students nationwide attending rallies to call for urgent action to slow the pace of climate change in San Diego, California, U.S., March 15, 2019.  REUTERS/Mike Blake - RC141D5E6600

Studies show that children can influence their parents' views on climate change. Image: REUTERS/Mike Blake

Sebastien Malo
Freelance contributor, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Climate Action?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how United States is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

United States

Teenagers in the U.S. coastal state of North Carolina who were schooled in the basics of man-made climate change saw their parents grow more concerned about the issue, scientists said on Monday in the first study of its kind.

The results suggested nationwide protests by young people urging action to tackle global warming could influence the views of adults at home, researchers told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Danielle Lawson, lead author of the study published by the journal Nature Climate Change and a researcher at North Carolina State University, said the findings could "empower" ongoing efforts by students, such as the "Fridays for Future" marches.

That movement has seen school children around the world walk out of classes on Fridays, including in the United States, in protest at government inaction on climate change.

In the study, parents whose middle school-age children followed a curriculum that included learning about climate change increased their own level of concern by nearly 23 percent on average, the researchers found.

For conservative parents, the rise was significantly higher, averaging 28 percent.

Image: Nature Climate Change

The two-year experiment, involving about 240 students and nearly 300 parents, was the first to demonstrate that climate change education for children promotes parental concern, a North Carolina State University statement said.

But the results could only be generalized to North Carolina coastal counties, where the experiment took place, said Lawson.

In the research, teachers gave some students lessons on climate change, including classroom activities like mapping data and field trips to places experiencing degradation linked to global warming.

Have you read?

Another group did not follow that curriculum.

Parents of both groups shared their level of preoccupation about global warming in surveys administered before and after the experiment.

Brett Levy, an assistant professor of education at the New York-based University at Albany who was not involved in the study, said the results potentially spoke to dynamics at play as students skipped school to demand climate action.

"Sometimes people who participate in protests learn about the issues involved," he said. "This study suggests that young people involved in these climate demonstrations could influence the views of their parents."

Currently, 37 of 50 U.S. states, plus Washington D.C., have adopted science education guidelines that include learning about climate change as a result of human activity, said Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education.

Thirteen states do not mention climate change as man-made, describe it only as a possibility, or misrepresent the scientific consensus about the phenomenon, he added.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Climate ActionYouth Perspectives
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Translating Critical Raw Material Trade into Development Benefits

Jack Hurd

May 23, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum