Millennials: Not environmentalists and support environmental protection, for health. Me too.

At the KPCodeYourHealth Code-a-Thon, part of Millennial Week DC (@MillennialWeek), and in prepararing to represent Kaiser Permanente at the National Dialogue on Climate Change and Health at the White House, I did a little research on this generation and the environment.

I asked a group of Millennial colleagues: “Does the term ‘environmentalist’ describe you?”

Here is their show of hands:

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“Does the term ‘environmentalist’ describe you?” (View on

Then I asked, “Are Stricter Environmental Laws and Regulations worth the cost?”

see below about why this question is framed in the context of regulation*

Here is their show of hands:

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“Are Stricter Environmental Laws and Regulations worth the cost?” (View on

That’s my unscientific version. Here’s more robust data:

2014: Pew Research Center shows that Millennials generally do not identify with the term “environmentalist” in the same proportion that generations before them did:

How the Generations See Themselves

2011: Millennials are more likely to believe that stricter environmental laws and Regulations worth the cost

11-3-11 #102

What does all of this mean? Well for me, this in line with my views. As I have said on this blog previously, I am not an environmentalist, I am a health activist (Just Read: What physicians (and patients) need to know about Climate Change – JAMA | Ted Eytan, MD).

*Although I asked the question (based on the Pew research question) about regulation, that’s not what this is about for me. I am most interested in the things that doctors, nurses, patients, and health systems can do while they heal people to heal the planet. Asking the question in the frame of “regulation” is useful in this case because it requires thought about civic commitment.

If we are here to keep people healthy, we can’t do it if we sicken their communities at the same time.

It’s no wonder, then that I was drawn to the project at the code-a-thon around air quality and health, that was not suggested by me πŸ™‚ .

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The AirQualityHealth&Me team (View on

There’s a good discussion of this nuanced view here. We’re unified in our interest in healthy communities πŸ™‚ .

Ted Eytan, MD