Gen Z Is Terrified Of The Future

Gen Z was born into a dying world. Jenna Grace Piehl speaks to Gen Zers about how climate change affects their fear of the future. 


 

Photo credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Gen Z was born into a dying world, and we’ve known it for years. For Ruthie Boyd, 23, the first signs came when the snow took longer to blanket the Colorado Mountains. Boyd was 9-years-old and confused as her elementary school teacher blamed global warming and told her that this could be the new normal. 

Before Boyd reached her pre-teen years, she was confronted by a rapidly changing world, and not for the better. Her sacred snow-coated ski town was facing a terrifyingly warm future. 

These realities of climate change have only amplified since. Hurricane seasons are getting worse year-by-year, the arctic has lost 95% of its ice in 30 years, one-third of all animal and plant species face climate change-related extinction by 2070, last year deadly fires ripped through California and Australia, and last week Texas froze over. 

AOC: This is our World War II

For Northwestern University student Lucy London, climate change intensifies the feeling of uncertainty in her future, it may even affect her decision to become a mother later in life. What kind of world would she be bringing her children into? How many difficult decisions would they have to make? These are the questions London thinks of when asked if she would start a family later in life. 

“The future is so uncertain, due to the climate catastrophe that is happening and will continue to worsen,” London said. “That just like the prospect of having kids and bringing more life into the world is -- I don't know what they would experience, and it seems like things would only get worse.”

The Greatest Generation faced World War II and Baby Boomers dealt with the Cold War/bomb shelters, yet Millennials and Gen Zers were born immediately confronted with the possibility of an inhabitable Earth. 

London and Boyd are not alone in their fears of climate catastrophe. In an Amnesty International survey of over 10,000 participants aged 18-25 across 22 countries, 40% ranked climate change as the most important issue facing our world today. The issue ranked second: pollution with 36% of participants voting for it. 

“There are like 5 million species going extinct every day or something insane because of us,” London said. “I just wish people would understand that the world that we are creating because of our irresponsibility is just gonna be so majorly impacted, and so different than our normal life today.”

Every day, it feels as if the survival of our planet rests on Gen Z’s shoulders and no one is listening. It’s gone so far that in a Fortune opinion piece, a professor of environmental science claimed that one of his students started starving herself to reduce her waste after she learned more about humanity’s abuse of the Earth. 

While her story is unique, her reaction to climate-related stress is common among Gen Z. 

In response to these harmful coping mechanisms, philosophers, psychologists and environment scholars created new diagnoses, emotions and vocabulary in an attempt to explain new climate-related experiences and emotions. In 2017, the American Psychological Association asserted that patients could be diagnosed with “ecoanxiety” to explain climate-related depression, anxiety, PTSD and immense stress. This is one of many climate-related mental illnesses that have emerged over the last few years. 

There is so much happening in the world, especially now as we suffer through a global pandemic, but many Gen Zers feel that if we don’t work to reduce climate change now then nothing else matters. Many generations look to us, activists like Greta Thunberg and the global strikes demonstrated across the globe and admire our motivation for the cause. 

Your admiration means nothing if you do not stand up, speak up and help us save our planet. 

“Whenever I'm prompted to think about big future things, I was like, well, climate change exists, we don't know that any of this is actually gonna happen,” London said.

Gen Z cannot solve climate change alone

We need government officials everywhere to protect our planet as much as we do. We cannot continue to be the sole generation leading the charge. Governmental officials like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are helping, but they too do not have the power necessary to turn the tide. It’s time for climate change to become a bipartisan issue and for our President to make it a top priority issue.

The future terrifies Gen Z. Not because we are afraid of growing up, but because we face an uncertain world. Gen Z is starving themselves, deeply questioning having children and perpetually anxious about how we are harming the planet that gave us life. This is all because of climate change. The future is scary enough as is, yet climate change makes us question if there is a future to be afraid of. We want a future, we want our children to have a world to live in. Yet, if no one listens and steps forward to help, we will continue to fear ours and our planet’s future. 

 


 

Comments

Find us at

Twitter RSS Flipboard

Share This Article!

Like this article?

Tags

Climate change Gen Z Mental health

Related stories

Women in Journalism: Meet Ida B. Wells

Women in Journalism: Meet Ida B. Wells

In 1892, three Black men and co-owners of a successful business found themselves in an altercation with the police and subsequently thrown in jail. Before any conviction could come down, or a fair trial convened, a white mob dragged…

Read more trending_flat
A Gen Z’s Take On Homelessness In Seattle: Is Big Tech To Blame?

A Gen Z’s Take On Homelessness In Seattle: Is Big Tech To Blame?

The Ave is a student-frequented quirky strip of local restaurants, thrift shops, and dive bars located in Seattle’s University District. It is notoriously grimy and always teeming with interesting characters — like a man…

Read more trending_flat
2020 In Review: The Powerlessness of Gen Z 

2020 In Review: The Powerlessness of Gen Z 

Many, I expect, will look at the year 2020 as evidence for the familiar notion that the children will save us. We can expect familiar imagery of children at mass protests, children speaking in Congress or the United Nations, or children…

Read more trending_flat
Reports Reveal Little To The Public About The Nashville Blast

Reports Reveal Little To The Public About The Nashville Blast

Much remains undisclosed to the public in Nashville, Tennessee, as this evening brings the day after the bomb blast to a close. What we know so far is that gunshot noises drew police to the area just before 5:30 am on Christmas…

Read more trending_flat
Nashville Explosion: Unprecedented Aspects Of The Bomb Blast Raise Troubling Questions

Nashville Explosion: Unprecedented Aspects Of The Bomb Blast Raise Troubling Questions

Yesterday morning, around 5:30am, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department received a report that gunshots had been fired downtown, prompting officers to respond near the 2nd Avenue North and Commerce Street location. On the scene,…

Read more trending_flat
Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer: The White House Messaging Is Falling Apart

Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer: The White House Messaging Is Falling Apart

“The White House messaging is falling apart, put simply,” Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer said on News Hour, referencing the absence of a “centralized, organized idea as to what they should put forth to the public.”…

Read more trending_flat

Latest article

Top