Constant fires, floods, hurricanes, and global warming are some of the many devastating effects of climate change. With the increased negative impacts in recent years, we have also witnessed an increase in the number of young environmental activists.
Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate are two of the young activists that have successfully raised environmental awareness around the world. Their main concern? Slowing down the damaging effects of climate change and ensuring a future with a healthy and livable earth for generations to come.
Scientists around the world continue to urge governments to take action and fight climate change by reducing greenhouse emissions, plastic use, and the emissions of other pollutants. As the future of our planet becomes uncertain, Gen Z is bringing new hope with its environmental consciousness, activism, and willingness to go out to the polls.
In the United States, concerns about climate change have been one of the biggest reasons why young people have chosen to become politically involved, and they tend to favor leaders who address climate change in their platforms. Many of these young people will be first-time voters this November.
Gen Z-ers are the youngest generation — and contrary to popular stereotypes of “being lazy” and “politically inactive,” — they have become the most politically and environmentally conscious.
From going vegan and reducing plastic use to protesting against large corporations that emit high amounts of pollutants, Gen Z-ers are more involved, generally, in advocacy for the environment than previous generations. They consume and share information at unprecedented rates which helps to extend their political activism, making connections such as the clear links between climate change, racial justice, and inequality.
As the primary users of technology, Gen Z has been putting different social media platforms to use by spreading awareness about climate change, elections, and other social issues.
“Tik Tok” has been one of the most used social media platforms, and it is an efficient way for this young generation to present useful information in a very entertaining way. For example, many Tik Tok users have been sharing artistic work and time-lapses showcasing how the earth could look in years to come if we don’t act now.
A Gen Z Tik Tok user from Russia, Anna Bogomolova, created a video depicting the devastating effects that climate change will have in the near future if we don’t do something to prevent it. “People need to be aware of the problem for things to change. We’ve got to take action. Our lives depend on it,” Bogomolova said.
In addition, Gen Z-ers from underrepresented communities know that climate change continues to affect their communities disproportionately. Many marginalized communities of color live near factories and agricultural farms that utilize chemicals and pesticides. These pollutants contaminate drinking water and worsen air quality. As a consequence, many people in these places develop illnesses such as asthma and can even experience lung damage.
Dayne Saldana is a young Latinx activist from Arizona who has decided to exercise her voting rights in order to give a voice to those members of her family that have been deeply impacted by environmental issues.
“My younger cousin had bad asthma in elementary school. Sometimes there were high pollution days where he couldn’t go outside. Living in Phoenix, a bigger city where there’s a lot of pollution in the air, living closer to the factories, traffic. That was obviously a huge challenge with school and stuff” said Saldana.
Similarly, 18-year-old activist Sareya Taylor also sees how Native Americans continue to be highly affected by pollution. Her community in the Fort Apache Reservation has been lacking clean tap water, people usually have to wait around two minutes for the water to stop having a brown and cloudy color.
For Taylor, voting has become essential because she believes that by electing leaders who act to protect the environment, she will also help ensure a better future, not only for herself but for her family as well.
“Especially within our Native communities, we have to think of each other. We have to think of our elders. We have to think of our youth. So when I think about voting, I’m not voting only for myself. I want things to be better for all of us. I want to vote to help the environment because the environment is what’s keeping my people alive and nourished and well,” explained Taylor.
To spark change, young people know that everyone must do their part to improve our natural environment, not just the younger generation. They often reject the notion that young people are the only hope and rather Gen Z believes that everyone should unite and act now because climate change is not only an issue concerning their future but also everyone’s present.
“As members of Gen Z, we value connecting with our peers to help identify and implement solutions. We cannot do this alone. We seek to learn from the gains that other social movements have made in the past. Engaging in intergenerational collaboration will enable us to find solutions to meet the scale of the crisis” said young environmental activists, Kiera O’Brien and Naina Agrawal-Hardin.
Young activists are not only fighting for their future, but also for the well-being of their families and generations to come.
The #VoteLikeAMadre! movement is an apt expression of the moment.
It is time to follow the lead of the children, and vote like the future depends on our voting decisions of today — because it does.
We urge you to pinky promise your kids you’ll vote to fight climate change!
Disclaimer: This sponsored article was produced and distributed in partnership with Latino Victory Project, in support of the Vote Like a Madre campaign.