Tuesday 21 May 2019

Innovators of the future say climate change will be their most pressing issue

Schoolchildren participate in a global protest for action to tackle climate change at Leinster House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Schoolchildren participate in a global protest for action to tackle climate change at Leinster House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Young people are showing a keen collective social conscience in areas such as climate change, according to two separate surveys published today.

Two-thirds of the cohort of the population known as 'Generation Z' identified climate and social issues as priority areas for science and technology to tackle in the next 20 years.

In contrast, 25-55 year-olds who responded to the same survey chose more functional advancements, with more than one in three wanting to see greater use of artificial intelligence (AI) in transport.

The perceptions of 1,200 of Ireland's 12-55 year-olds on science and technology were gathered last week ahead of the launch of the 56th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, which will take place from January 8-11, 2020.

A look-back on the archives shows how the exhibition has charted the growth of technology, with projects in the early 2000s looking at new innovations and how they could make life more convenient.

By 2015, the focus had shifted to the potential technology has to help humanity.

Ireland's passion for technology was evident in the responses showing more than one in three 'could not live without' wifi, with nearly half of 19-24 year-olds most dependent on it. Mobile phones came a close second, while a quarter said that they could not live without online services such as banking, storage or shopping apps - the highest proportion of which were 40 and over.

Meanwhile, separate findings from the Young Social Innovators (YSI)/Amarách Generation Z research, show that almost half (47pc) of 16-21 year-olds believe climate change is one of the biggest issues facing their generation, and two in three (64pc) believe they will contribute toward climate action during their lifetime.

The findings were released to coincide with the Young Social Innovators of the Year Awards 2019 today, where more than 30 second-level school teams present creative solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing them, their communities and wider Irish society.

According to YSI chief executive Rachel Collier, compared with all other areas of concern identified in the research, climate change was the one where respondents believed they could make an impact.

Irish Independent

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