Generation Z, those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was brought into a dying world. They have had to watch as hurricanes devastate the southeast, fires rage through the west and tornadoes tear through the south.
But what is causing this to occur? The culprit behind Earth’s downfall is abnormal climate changes. Global Warming is a name given to the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system since the onset of the Industrial Revolution due to human activities. While the planet naturally goes through periods of heating and cooling, the increase in humans burning fossil fuels and other greenhouse gases has caused the Earth’s temperature to skyrocket, wreaking havoc on the planet.
According to climate.gov, the Earth’s temperature has risen by 0.14° F per decade since 1880 with the rate of warming over the past forty years doubling since 1981. This warming of the atmosphere doesn’t just make Earth hotter; it makes weather more unpredictable as well. Devastating droughts, freak snowstorms, and drowning monsoons are now a common occurrence in this day and age, terrifying those that are trying to grow up in them.
Anna Novak, a mother of two, remembers learning the bare minimum about global warming. “We talked about the ice caps melting and polar bears not being able to find enough food. Aside from that, it was more of a reduce, reuse, recycle kind of talk.”
Although Gen Z had been taught the basics of what global warming is, they were not taught how to stop it.
“Exposure to climate justice was very passive, not active,” Jocelyn Nunez Colon, a political science major, said. “I didn’t really learn about it until my freshman year of college, which was unfortunate.”
As young adults face the natural disasters that dare to tear apart their planet, anxieties wreak havoc on the outlook of their futures. According to a study done by Thomson Reuters Foundation, four out of ten young adults fear what lies ahead.
“The huge part of global warming is that the actions don’t compare to the consequences,” Nunez-Colon said. “I just started living my life but I’m worried if I’ll even have a future.”
For others like Axel Irizarry Negron and Anna Novak, the effects of climate change are affecting both their mental health and personal lives.
“I try not to think about it too much,” Negron said. “The more I think about it, the more anxious I get. It especially worries me for an island like Puerto Rico, where I’m from. With the ice caps melting, causing the water level to rise, what hope does a small island like Puerto Rico have?”
For Novak, she has her children to worry about, “I know it’s getting worse every day and that scares me. I’m afraid of what the world will look like for my children, with no sustainable air, food and water. That’s the worst part of it.”
With the world falling apart at the seams, Generation Z is calling for the government to do something, though most believe that their calls for help are falling on deaf ears.|
“The US has done nothing to work towards helping global warming,” Irizarry Negron said. “We’ve known about this since the ‘70s and nothing has been done. Besides the fake ‘going green’ propaganda. This problem won’t get solved with us switching from plastic to paper; it won’t until the world comes together to make a plan and act on it.”
“There are so many facets to global warming, there’s so much to learn about,” Nunez Colon said, “If you’re looking for a sign to learn more and help with ending climate change, this is it.”