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The Earth Day generation

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The current generation of schoolchildren has grown up with Earth Day. They've celebrated it at school and often at home. It's spawned a regular part of their school curriculum as they're taught about recycling, organic gardening, endangered species, pollution, solar and other types of renewable energy, as well as everyday steps they and their families can take. And many have embraced this wholeheartedly.

Does this make today's kids more knowledgeable about geoscience and environmental issues? More aware of global environmental issues? More likely to take steps that they feel will help protect and improve the world? More willing to help find solutions to possible environmental challenges of the future?

Some answers are found in a survey and a study released in time for Earth Day.

As you might expect, most high school students worldwide are familiar with the common environmental issues -- air pollution, energy shortages, and extinction of plants and animals. However -- and this may come as a surprise -- there's little correlation between students feeling responsible for the environment and how proficient they are in environmental science.

Actually, the ones who demonstrate the least environmental knowledge are the most optimistic (often wildly so) about the solutions to problems that may be facing the earth over the next two decades.

So says a study ("Green at 15?") funded by the National Science Foundation. Click here to download a free PDF of the study, which assessed the environmental awareness, attitudes, and science expertise of 15-year-olds in 57 countries.

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