The Generation Robbed of a Future Isn't Giving up Yet
by Madison Cavallaro
Fires, drought, hurricanes, heat waves; people are comparing the wrath of climate change as biblical. We are facing climate change head-on, and if you are aware of the climate crisis, you are just as worried as the rest of us. In August, The United Nations gave the most severe warning yet, "a code red for humanity." This, unfortunately, makes sense since when things of these matter don't get better, they usually get worse.
Love It If We Made It
Although it seems that all Gen Z and Millennials have been trying to change is the response to climate change, the lack of progress sends us into an existential crisis. While to those we can attribute most of the climate issues to, many won't even be around to deal with the aftermath. We didn't make this mess, yet we are scrambling and sacrificing for our futures. In the words of my favorite British punk-pop band, The 1975, "Modernity has failed us."
Gen Z is noted as the "Über Generation," the generation that will "choose behaviors that point the way forward rather than anchor us to the past... Lead the world into a new era of possibility." As told by Thomas Koulpoulos and Dan Keldsen, authors of The Gen Z Effect. Will it be Gen Z and millennials that have to stand up for the future generations to come? Probably. Gen Z and Millennials are most active in addressing climate change. A recent Pew study found 67 percent of Gen Z and 71 percent of Millennials think climate should be a top priority to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations. Many people feel there is no point in anything else; so, young adults have been flocking to climate careers. Because of this, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8 percent growth in employment opportunities for environmental sciences and related specialties over the next 10 years. This is no small statistic. Compared to other industries, this is significant growth. If older generations can recognize anything from these statistics, hopefully, it is that we really f*cking care about our futures and the planets.
Mo' Sustainability Mo' Jobs
The reality is, we have no choice. Many individuals pursue a career path they are passionate about, and two-thirds of millennials consider a company's social and environmental responsibility when weighing out job options. Climate change will keep transforming businesses and the workforce as all industries will need climate-focused roles. Even healthcare will require a climate-focused workforce; The World Health Organization predicts climate change will cause 250,00- additional deaths per year. The most recent and soon-to-be graduates of college-level academia are applying to energy, transportation, civil engineering, engineered carbon removal, environmental advocacy and policy, climate finance, and journalism careers.
As we move towards a clean energy future, some are worried about jobs lost in the process. Not to mention the cost of clean energy is thought to be a leg and a half. The fact is, leading economic research shows the United States can reduce greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050 while adding half a million jobs annually. The cherry on top? This will save Americans billions of dollars. Academic institutions are also cashing in on the desire of younger generations to pursue sustainability. The University of Southern California survey found that 64 percent of undergraduates are "very interested" in on-campus sustainability, and 33 percent of survey takers participate in sustainable activities daily. Since this survey, USC launched a curriculum program to prepare students for how their majors intersect with sustainability and the environment. It is abundantly clear there is a fire under our bums. The younger generations are heated, and we are not giving in to the old idea that if you want to do good in the world, no one will pay you to do it. Instead, we are taking the approach of, if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.
It is more than just pursuing environmental careers. Millennials and Gen Z are reluctant to have children because we are concerned with the world they will be coming into. Not to mention the more tiny humans, the more resources needed, violà more greenhouse gases. Actually, to put it in perspective, having a child is 7 times worse for the climate in terms of CO2 emissions. At the same time, particulate pollution is associated with an increased likelihood of infertility.
Hope in Action
Some may say the standard is that all young people are passionate about making changes and then lose steam when they realize things are far too out of grasp. I have a feeling this will not be the case when it comes to climate change. Let's just say we are holding a grudge. We did not create the state of the world that is crippling. Therefore, we will inspire changes to pursue a clean energy future where we won't feel that we are bringing children into a disastrous nightmare. The future looks grim when each year is the worst year yet for global warming temperatures. Solutions to the problem we will continue to face with climate change seem in reach. All because we have an army of passionate Millennials and Gen-Z with unstoppable confidence that climate change is the number one societal threat. In the words of Greta Thunberg, "There is no planet B, there is no planet blah blah blah… Net Zero by 2050, blah blah blah… We can no longer let the people in power decide what hope is… They have had 30 years to blah blah blah… Hope is telling the truth. Hope is taking action." We are mad, worked up, and determined to see the future we have been promised. We deserve it, the planet deserves it, and frankly, if our generation isn't going to, no one will.
Sources: 1 Gen Z Effect / 2 CNBC / 3 Labor 4 Sustainability / 4 Pew Research / 5 The Guardian / 6 Yale Climate Connections / 7 BBC / 8 Twitter: Greta Thundberg
Meet our Contributor
Madison is an Eating Disorder Consoler in Los Angeles. She graduated from Emmanuel College and Northeastern University in Boston with a B.S. and M.S. and specializes in health science and nutrition. Throughout her career, she has aspired to impact the nutrition field in a positive way. With her background and interest in sustainability, health, and wellness, she aims to address limitations in health by making these topics more accessible to communities and individuals.