‘I raise my voice not so that i can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.’
– Malala Yousafzai
If you are a young person, the future is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate.
Climate Change is a very real, defining issue of our time. Regardless of whether you live in a place like the United States, where the President denies Climate Change (along with pulling out of the Paris Agreement to curb Carbon Emissions), or somewhere more advanced in its leadership on Climate Change, like France, who’s Prime Minister ended an address on the subject with: ‘Make our planet great again.’ … Boom.
Either way, we all live on the same planet, and it is our individual and collective responsibility to take action on Climate Change if this planet is going to survive even the next 40 years. NASA says the evidence for rapid Climate Change is compelling, noting key indicators, including:
Global Temperature Rises;
Shrinking Ice Sheets;
Decreased Snow Cover;
Sea Level Rises;
Declining Arctic Sea Ice;
Extreme Weather Events and
Climate Change is affecting the planet in significant, detrimental and soon-to-be irreversible ways. Without drastic action, the planet we know today will be gone, replaced with a landscape characterized catastrophic natural disasters, mass-extinction, global food shortages and increased exposure to conflict.
It’s for this reason that the younger generations are gearing up for a rough ride, and changing the way they see the world, in order to survive the damage our ancestors have inflicted on the planet.
More and more Millenials are becoming concerned with what the future may look like in 10, 20 or even 50 years from now. The phrase ‘I don’t want to bring children into this world’ is something you wouldn’t often have heard someone say 50 years ago. But in this day and age, there is a real, tangible fear of what the future may hold.
Global birth rates are declining, with more people becoming aware of the planet’s situation. The fear of bringing children into a world of uncertainty is a very real issue facing the young people of today. Even as recently as February this year, United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) asked the question ‘Is it still OK to have children?’ on her Instagram Story.
AOC argues that although the answer is not clear-cut, there is a scientific consensus that the lives of future generations will be difficult. And they know it. More and more young people are taking part in Global Climate Change Protests, like those started by Greta Thunberg who recently stated:
‘You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes… We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis…if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then… we should change the system itself.’
– Greta Thunberg
Younger generations are increasingly opting not to have children, with worries of food and water shortages, global unrest, natural disasters and political unrest present themselves as very real threats.
A lot of Millenials are written off as out-of-touch with politics.
But the truth is, Millenials simply have no faith in the people representing them. Evidence of this is in the record number of Australians enrolled to vote this election – 96.8% of the total eligible voting population. This includes a record number of 18-24 year olds.
The world’s leaders have a responsibility to fight against Climate Change. We can only hope that as the older generations die out, they will be replaced with more switched-on individuals, who are dedicated to helping the planet and the people living on it, rather than continuing to be more preoccupied with the 1%:
“That future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once. You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to.”
– Greta Thunberg
A survey carried out by Triple J found that 89% of young Australians believe the politicians in power aren’t working in the best interests of the planet. And guess what? Those same young people voted Environmental Policy and Climate Change as the most important issues to them, come election time.
That’s pretty damning.
The negative impact Climate Change is having on the physical environment poses real risks when it comes to the Mental Health of young people. A sense of doom where the future contains things like poverty, unemployment, natural disasters and resource shortages are very real issues that young people are having to face.
Even as far back as 2012, the National Wildlife Federation reported that over 200 million Americans would be exposed to serious psychological distress from climate related incidents. Of a study done by Millennium Kids Inc., 94.6% of the target demographic felt that Climate Change would be a problem in the future.
In the face of a changing climate, Eco-Anxiety is only going to become more and more apparent, with Mental Health organisations starting to get on board, such as ReachOut, who have a page dedicated to: How to cope with anxiety about climate change.
The page in question lists a variety of reasons young people might feel strained, stressed or anxious about Climate Change, including:
Feeling like planning for the future is pointless and/or hopeless;
Angry that the people around them aren’t doing anything to help;
Frustration at a lack of action they can take to help;
Worrying about whether it’s responsible to have children (see above) and
Feeling like their future is out of their control.
All very valid points. Climate Change is a hugely relevant issue in the world today, and one that deserves to be treated with urgency.
If you are a young person, the future is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. There are lots of ways you can help the environment in meaningful ways, including:
Taking part in conversations with others about Climate Change
Joining the Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition
Taking part in School Strike 4 Climate
Joining the Australian Student Environment Network
Finding articles about ways to help the environment at home
Being active on Social Media Platforms
Joining clean up efforts, such as Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris Campaign
Join the conversation at www.theartofoverthinking.com