Skip to main content

How Generation Z Inherited Global Warming

A little over 30 years ago, in 1988, global warming was making the front pages of newspapers in the United States. It was the first time that this important warning from experts has reached the mass audiences. Since then, our planet has become hotter, the weather significantly more extreme, sea levels have risen, and natural wildfires have destroyed fauna and flora in many parts of the world.

Photo by Markus Spiske

Considering all this, it’s only reasonable that one would wonder what previous generations have been doing all along. But is it fair to blame the Baby Boomers for what the millennial and Gen Z generations have experienced for most, if not all their lives?

The Boomers might have one reasonable excuse for not taking real action. That is explicable by our human nature, which sometimes makes us have a distorted perception of the future. If something doesn’t directly affect our present state of being, then it’s not always considered a matter of urgency.

As the global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion states: “We need urgent change, and we need it yesterday”. The Baby Boomers generation has put benefits such as low prices and easy access to resources above taking action against some alleged future risks. The reluctance and irresponsibility of Boomers has created an immense carbon footprint and passed the problem onto future generations.

Gen Zers are getting better at perceiving this problem lately, but previous generations might not have even realised the true significance of what the potential effects could be on the long term.

However, the warnings have been among us for a long time. The effects of global warming have started to show since the late 50s to early 80s, before Gen Z were even born and when some Boomers were still infants. After tons of research and data gathering, the scientific community has made a collective decision and was, at last, convinced that most global warming causes are man made.

Looking at the latest century alone, especially since 1970, most human activities have had a direct impact on the climate. To name the few major ones, greenhouse gas emissions together with deforestation and increased livestock farming have played big roles in impacting the climate.

Back in ancient times, for example, people had a well-established understanding of the weather and its potential impact on humans, plants and animals. It was believed that human beings could alter the weather through their farming methods, which still applies today.

History has brought many scientific discoveries that helped humans understand the weather and its fluctuations.

In 1896, Sweden’s first Nobel prize winner, the chemist Svante Arrhenius, discovered that excessive coal burning will heighten the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect and claimed that this information might become useful for future generations. Almost another century has passed until the climate scientist Wallace Broecker, has published a study predicting temperature changes, and he was the first person to coin the term “global warming”.

Photo via Unsplash
Photo by Markus Spiske

What was once only a small branch of science has developed into one of the most important subjects of research nowadays.

The problem that governments face is to prioritize justly, and despite repeated warnings, they have failed to take pertinent actions throughout the years. It can be difficult to put the needs of future generations above present ones. Boomers have certainly mismanaged the situation by creating a temporary comfort bubble and ended up not suffering much of the climate crisis consequences for most of their lifetime. In contrast, millennials have lived through it for half of their lives, and most Gen Zers were born during times of crisis. This intergenerational relationship is an ongoing process of older generations borrowing time, opportunities and economic security from the younger generations, in an attempt to build up and maintain what used to be perceived as normal in the past, a so-called avariciousness of Baby Boomers.

 

Environmental activism is becoming more prominent among Gen Z, and it takes the spotlight as social platforms and the mainstream media have expanded their coverage on this matter. But what Gen Zers don’t have as much is the political power that Boomers carry through vote and members in the government. More people are calling for change now, and this is the second chance that Baby Boomers get to make things right. The planet is in a stage from which it can still be recovered, and Baby Boomers can still be heroes in this story.

As our surroundings evolve in new directions, so should our sense of adaptability to these new currents. Working together towards a solution is what will harmonise this intergenerational relation. We simply cannot insist on maintaining a lifestyle that does not fit our environment anymore, and with this in mind, it might be time that Boomers must start using their political power correctly or pass on the torch.