Studies show that kids can influence adults in ways that very few others can. This is critical because people who deny the veracity of climate change are almost impossible to reach with science and reason.
According to a 2018 Gallup poll, there is a global warming age gap. The poll found that 70 percent of Americans age 18 to 34 say they worry about climate change, compared to 56 percent of people 55 and older. Kids realize that our failure to act puts their futures in jeopardy. They are aware that we are not doing what we must to address biodiversity loss, sea-level rise, and extreme weather including devastating heat waves. As explained by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg,”You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are
stealing their future in front of their very eyes”.
A study published in the research journal Nature Climate Change, found that middle school-aged students who are getting a fact-based climate change education can get through to adults when others can’t. According to the researchers at North Carolina State University this may have to do with the fact that parents care about their kids and the political innocence of children. So many climate skeptics have been erroneously led to believe that the science of climate change is political. These kids can get through because they come at the issue from a non-political point of view.
Danielle Lawson, the paper’s lead author, and a recent PhD graduate from North Carolina State University calls kids teaching parents “intergenerational learning”.”[W]hen a parent is interacting with their child, they don’t view their child through this lens of having an agenda,” Lawson said. “It makes for a unique opportunity to open up conversation in a way that we struggle with in normal day to day life.”
This study corroborates others which show that kids can change the behaviors of climate skeptics. Social and behavioral psychologists have have found that kids are capable of auguring greater awareness and even behavioral change.
Kids are well positioned to identify their parents reservations and speak directly to their issues. This is called strategic framing. The research shows that when they do this they have a very good chance of changing minds.
However, fossil fuel funded conservative groups are trying to deny kids a fact-based climate education. If kids are deprived of access to the facts they cannot be expected to engage in intergenerational learning.