Gen Z: The Climate Generation | Teen Ink

Gen Z: The Climate Generation

April 7, 2021
By mealsie BRONZE, Nezperce, Idaho
mealsie BRONZE, Nezperce, Idaho
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

As members of Generation Z, most of us can agree that we aren’t inheriting this planet under ideal circumstances. From a global pandemic to a civil rights movement, we’ve seen and experienced quite a bit for our age. However, adulthood is on the horizon, and it won’t be long before we stop witnessing history and begin contributing to it. At this moment, our planet is in a crisis. Animal species are disappearing at an alarming rate. Fire and hurricane seasons are getting longer, natural barriers like coral reefs and wetlands are disintegrating, and more, all because of climate change. As we grow older and begin moving into adult life, climate change will become more important to our daily lives, so here is a quick summary of what climate change means. It begins with the atmosphere.
Many different kinds of gases make up our atmosphere. Some provide plants and animals with the air they need to breathe, others reflect sunlight, so the earth doesn’t get too hot, and some absorb the sun’s energy, so we don’t freeze completely. It’s this balance of gases that makes life on earth possible so anything that disrupts it, disrupts life on earth. Unfortunately, the atmosphere is experiencing one such disruption, and it has been for a while. During the Industrial Revolution, which began about 150 years ago, humankind discovered a way to use fossil fuels (so gasoline, coal, propane, diesel, oil, etc.) to generate energy on a large scale. This technology made a lot of incredible things possible. Before the Industrial Revolution, we had candles, horses, manual labor, and that was it. Afterward, we had electricity to give us light, factories to create our food and tools, and automobiles to take us wherever we wanted to go. It’s thanks to fossil fuels that humans have advanced so far. However, this source of electricity has one major catch. Fossil fuels release greenhouse gases which are gasses that are especially good at trapping heat within the atmosphere. 
Under normal circumstances, greenhouse gases are beneficial because they keep the earth warm. But, so much gas has been released over the past century that things are getting too warm and it’s beginning to cause all kinds of problems for the earth’s natural processes. It may seem as though the solution is simple. All we have to do is stop using fossil fuels, and it would solve all our problems. Well, unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. One of the primary emissions released by fossil fuels, called carbon dioxide, can stick around in the atmosphere anywhere from 300 to 1000 years. So, all the coal smoke belched out by railroads that operated way back in the 1900s is still around, and the gas you burned driving to school this morning will stick around for a while too. This means that most of the warming we’re going to see in the coming years will happen no matter what because this greenhouse gas has been accumulating for decades.
Yikes, right? Climate change can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With cooperation and ingenuity, we can tackle this challenge. But, it begins with our generation. If we’re mindful about how we live and exist alongside the environment, if we’re informed consumers and conscious recyclers, we can make the difference that our planet needs.

The author's comments:

I've written this article as a part of my Senior Project on Climate Change.

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