EmpowerGEN Column – Aboutboulder.com

Week of June 12 2023

Gen Z: Rising Up for Climate Action and a Sustainable Future

Hey everyone, it’s Summer here, and I’m super excited to dive into this week’s EmpowerGen column! Today, let’s talk about something close to my heart: the incredible role that my generation, Gen Z, is playing in climate action. We’re not just sitting back and watching; we’re rolling up our sleeves and making a real difference. So, buckle up and join me as we explore the innovative ideas, passion, and determination of Gen Z in combating climate change and creating a safer world for all.

Gen Z’s Passion Ignites Change:

Let me start by sharing some eye-opening stats. In studies done by the Pew Research Center, it was found that 67% of the interviewed Gen Zers say Climate Change should be the top priority to ensure a safer environment for future generations? That’s right! We’re more concerned about climate action than any previous generation. We’re not just talking about it, we’re taking action: Gen Z, Millennials Stand Out for Climate Change Activism, Social Media Engagement With Issue | Pew Research Center. In fact, also according to Pew Research Center, 32% of Gen Zers have donated money, contacted elected officials, volunteered, or attended rallies to address climate change in the last year. We’re a force to be reckoned with!

An incredible moment at the United Nations in 2018, where I had the privilege of attending alongside my mom, Heidi Cuppari. As a youth delegate, I was invited to share the impact I made with a film project when I was just 11 years old. Together, with the support of Dream Tank, my business partner and I took action to protect a local owl preserve in Boulder, and it was an honor to have our voices heard on such a global platform. Grateful for the opportunity to inspire other young change-makers and continue making a positive impact in the world! 🌍🎥🦉 #UNYouthDelegate #YouthImpact #FilmForChange #EnvironmentalConservation #YouthEmpowerment #UnitedNations

Climate Change and Gen Z’s Emotional Burden:

But let’s get real for a moment. Climate change is not just another headline for us, it’s personal. We’ve grown up bombarded with news of climate disasters on social media. It’s disheartening, to say the least. We’re not just anxious, we’re determined to make a difference. We feel the weight of this crisis on our shoulders, and it pushes us to act. A recent Yale Environment 360 interview revealed that climate anxiety is greatest for Gen Z. It’s like a heavy emotional burden we carry, constantly reminding us of the urgency to act. Yet, we are told we are overreacting. Many Gen Zers feel betrayed and let down by our government and the lack of action taken. As a result, many Gen Zers have lost faith in our ability to solve problems as a nation – leading them to believe that humanity is doomed and there is really nothing they can do about it. This is backed up by the fact that more than half of the 16 to 25 year-olds in the Lancet survey said they believe humanity is doomed, and 40% said that fears about the future have made them reluctant to have children in the future, which I resonate with personally. 

Taking Action on TikTok and Beyond:

Now, let’s talk about TikTok. Many of us Gen Zers are using this platform to spread awareness about the urgency of climate change. Check out the comment sections, and you’ll see countless youth advocating for change. It’s incredible how a 60-second video can inspire and ignite a movement. And hey, while we’re at it, have you noticed the recent climate-related buzz on TikTok? The dusty orange atmosphere in New York caused by wildfires in Canada sparked a wave of youth-led discussions urging change. It’s a stark reminder that climate change knows no boundaries.

My Personal Experience and Hope for the Future:

Let me share my personal experience with you. When I talk to adults about climate change, it’s a mixed bag. Some adults genuinely understand the urgency and want to take action, which gives me hope. But there are others who seem to brush it off or quickly change the subject. It’s frustrating because this is the biggest challenge we face, and we need everyone on board.

But when I talk to my fellow Gen Zers, something magical happens. We get fired up, and our passion ignites. We know the future is in our hands, and we refuse to sit idly by. I’ve done more to spread awareness and help our planet when I’m surrounded by youth who share my sense of urgency.

It’s important to address the elephant in the room: COVID-19. This pandemic has deeply affected us, and it’s taken a toll on our motivation. Many of us struggle to find the drive to be productive and make a difference after experiencing such upheaval. I’ve personally felt it—I’ve had days where forcing myself to do anything productive felt impossible. It’s like a heavy weight dragging me down.

And then there’s the issue of having children in the future. The fear and uncertainty make me question whether bringing children into this world is the responsible choice. It’s a tough decision that many of us in Gen Z grapple with. We love the idea of raising a family, but the thought of what the future holds casts a shadow of doubt. 

Despite these challenges, I hold onto hope. I’ve led and witnessed the power of collective action and the potential of my generation. When we come together, we have the passion, the determination, and the creativity to make a real impact. 

I’m grateful to have incredible role models and leaders in my life who are making a difference. My mom, Heidi Cuppari, is one of them. She’s a force to be reckoned with, pioneering change in social impact investing, women’s leadership, and creating an ecosystem of support for youth across sectors. She’s working alongside other inspiring leaders who are dedicated to solving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and making the world a better place for future generations.

So, my fellow Gen Zers, let’s keep pushing forward. Let’s continue to raise our voices, demand action, and inspire others to join us. The more young people who care about making a difference, the greater the ripple effect will be. Together, alongside leaders like my mom and others, we can create a brighter and more sustainable future for all. 

Please comment on this post here or on the Dream Tank blog, and share what you’re doing to take action!  

Also, we want to hear what other teens and young adults are doing and highlight your stories in this column. Please apply here.

PS. For valuable insights into the impact of air quality on our environment and what you can do to lead your family and community in keeping it clean, check out this awesome article on AboutBoulder.com: “Breathe Easy in Boulder: A Guide to Air Quality.”

#GenZ #ClimateAction #YouthActivism #Sustainability #ClimateChange #EmpowerGen, @SunriseMovement @GretaThunberg @FridaysForFuture @AboutBoulder

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