Climate Change Perspective from Generation Z
An Opinion from a Young Writer at WiRED
By: Olivia Spirito; Edited by Jessie Crowdy
As governments around the world rightly focus on the growing COVID-19 outbreak, we need to be mindful of a variety of other existential threats that will not disappear with a cure or a vaccine. The most evident threat is climate change; throughout the next decades, it will severely impact every aspect of life, including human health. In this article, one of our young writers shares her passionate concern, and her words remind us that her generation faces huge challenges even after the COVID-19 issue resolves.
The earth is warming at an extraordinary rate, and last year we experienced the second warmest year in history. Scientists caution the public that without significant action to slow down climate change today, uncontrollable catastrophes are right around the corner.
Young adults, like me, are actively aware of the serious issue of climate change. We, as a group, realize that the fate of our future will be in the hands of the environment, and it is absolutely terrifying. I want to look into the future and see myself living a happy, healthy and prosperous life. I want to see myself pursuing a career I love and possibly raising a family.
Teenagers and young adults who are a part of Generation Z will all take different paths in life; however, a future we all share is the impact of the earth’s ecological changes and the direct effect it will have on us. Earth’s changes will affect every person, and, therefore, we all should be uniting as a large force to fight climate change together. I am inspired by people who are passionate about fixing climate change. I want to be a part of efforts that reshape earth’s future. However, it discourages me greatly hearing about adults in positions of power failing to accept the scientific facts and failing to develop initiatives to help create a thriving future for the next generation of leaders. Ultimately, Generation Z has an entire lifetime to live, and we are empowered to make changes that can effectively save our future.
There are university student groups nationwide advocating for changes within their campus communities to reduce their carbon footprint and promote more efficient living. Students worldwide lead protests to push for action from their local and national governments. More than that, social media is playing a massive part in not only sharing information about climate change but advocating for change by promoting new solutions to help our carbon footprint.
Last year, several companies developed metal straws to “save the turtles” and reduce the amount of single-use plastic straws in landfills and oceans. I see advertisements online daily about reusable cups, grocery bags, electric cars and becoming vegan to help reduce our carbon footprint. These switches will, of course, be beneficial to the overall effort; however, I believe that greenhouse gases and carbon emission released into the atmosphere from large corporations represent our more significant problem.
Reusable energy, such as nuclear and solar energy, has the potential to replace many of our fossil fuels. I recognize that from a financial standpoint, it may be costly to switch to reusable energy, but do we have a choice? Eventually, the toll of climate change on our wallets will far exceed the costs of changing our energy sources today.
The rising temperature of our atmosphere will eventually create uninhabitable environments. The hot climate will significantly decrease the number of crop yields, causing mass starvation. Dehydration and heat exhaustion will target the elderly and the sick, which could cause this population to die at rapid rates due to extreme temperatures. The warm environment, in turn, will cause disease to spread, creating a multitude of pandemics. If this is our future, my generation and those that come after us will be forced to face these issues. We are told to live life with no regrets; however, without action to reduce the severity of climate change, we will undoubtedly regret that we did not act sooner.
I understand that climate change is inevitable at this point. However, efforts can be made to reduce the severity and speed of its development. I do not want to live life with any regrets. My entire generation is anxious for change: if we all fight climate change together, we stand a chance to live a fulfilling life. We cannot remain helpless and just sit around waiting for other people to make the changes for us.
We all can start with personal changes to daily routines so as to reduce our carbon footprint. More importantly, to save our future, we need to go to our local, state and national government officials and advocate for change. The average age of Members of the 115th Congress is 60 years — among the highest of any Congress in recent U.S. history. Who is representing the young adults of the United States?
It is easy to turn a blind eye to issues that may not directly affect you in the future, but that will not solve any problems. It is essential to acknowledge the severity of the climate change issue and advocate for yourself and generations to come for a sustainable healthy planet.
Right now is the time to begin electing young officials to represent you and the future you seek to be proud of. Contact your local representatives to advocate for change and vote for leaders who will help create the future you dream of and will help begin making efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Olivia Spirito joined WiRED International in August 2017 and now serves as a staff writer for our main website. She has contributed significantly to our international mission through penning articles whose topics include health observance days, the launches of our health learning modules, people overseas who benefit from our training programs, interviews with our volunteers and more. Ms. Spirito is finishing her first year of college where she is on a pre-health track to prepare to become a physician assistant.