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Over the weekend, about 10,000 young climate activists were in Washington D.C. to push for federal action on climate change. The Power Shift conference included a series of keynote speeches and workshops on grassroots organizing.

One might be tempted to conclude from the large turnout that America’s youth are more informed about climate science. But new poll results released Monday show that isn’t necessarily the case.

The survey, from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, gave fewer teens (25%) a passing grade on climate change knowledge than adults (30%).

However (and not at all surprisingly), it also found that teens were more likely to give an “I don’t know” response to a question. That meant for some questions, minus those responses, the proportions of right vs. wrong answers were pretty much the same for teens and adults.

And while fewer teens correctly answered that most scientists think global warming is happening, they were less likely to say “there is a lot of disagreement” and twice as likely to say they didn’t know enough to answer the question.

Some other highlights:

  • 43% of teens are somewhat or very worried about global warming, versus 57% of adults
  • 39% of teens said phases of the moon can affect global temperatures, versus 44% of adults
  • 25% of teens, and 19% of adults, didn’t know whether solar energy is a fossil fuel
  • 71% of teens, versus 67% of adults, correctly answered that carbon dioxide is produced by burning fossil fuels
  • The poll surveyed 517 teens age 13-17 and 1,513 adults. Read the full results for more.

    Ken Paulman

    Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.