Opinion: Dear Generation Z

We will not receive an apology. Past generations have continually made poor decisions that have resulted in the gradual erosion of our planet and now we have no choice but to be the generation that changes that. Our generation must take major steps in order to save our planet and work to reverse the wrongs of generations past. I am writing this as the world we live in is decades away from reaching a point where the damage we have caused is utterly irreversible, and I beg you to listen because we are now the only ones who can save the future.

As a Northern California native, I have slowly seen Autumn become more well known in our state as “fire season”. We are as surprised one day to see that all the leaves on the trees outside of our houses have fallen down, as we are to see an orange sky and smoke outside our windows. Over time I have watched my classmates and myself become desensitized to the fact that the gorgeous fall sunsets we have come to know so well, are a result of wildfires running rampant through counties just miles away from our schools and homes. These wildfires are damaging wildlife habitats, as well as the homes of thousands of people. We watch the temperatures rise as if there is a competition for how hot we can get our counties or our state to become. In school, we hear about the growing number of animals on the Endangered Species List and hardly bat an eye. Every day we wake up and it feels as though something even more catastrophic than what happened the day before has occurred. The idea that our planet could one day be uninhabitable seems like something that would be written in a sci-fi novel, not something that could seriously become our future, and yet that is the reality we face.

 According to the World Wildlife Foundation, if we do not take action now sea levels will continue to rise, displacing millions of people who live on coasts, coral reefs will become bleached due to the change in water temperature, the Arctic could have ice-free summers, extreme heat waves will occur every 5 years, rainfall and snowfall will increase leading to a higher risk in flooding, and habitats for some animals and plants will become uninhabitable, requiring species to either adapt or face extinction.

Generation Z has dedicated themselves to creating many important changes such as slowly destigmatizing mental health and creating more support and much needed recognition for the Black Lives Matter movement during a pandemic, but we have fallen short on what needs to be done to combat climate change. We have so much cutting-edge technology that could provide sustainable energy sources, or desalinate ocean water but there needs to be more support from the general public in order for projects like these to be funded, and for communities to have affordable and sustainable energy options to implement.  

It can seem daunting to take on combating climate change but small choices in your everyday life can have a larger effect than you would imagine. I encourage everyone to look more deeply into how you can make your life more sustainable.  

 Ways to have a more positive impact on the environment:

-Making a conscious effort to eliminate food waste, whether it be buying less food, freezing food that is beginning to go bad that you are not ready to use, compost leftovers, etc.

-Reduce water usage. This can be done by simply buying water saving shower heads, or by working on reducing the time you take in the shower, turning off the water when you are brushing your teeth, etc.

-Reducing electricity usage. Making sure that lights/fans/etc. are always turned off in rooms that you are not using, switch to LED lights, unplug items when not in use to avoid standby power, etc.

-Using renewable energy sources. If possible switch to solar, hydropower, wind, etc.

-Reduce your fossil fuel consumption. Reducing fossil fuels could mean committing to carpooling to as many events as possible, biking or walking to places in closer proximity, utilizing public transportation when possible, or even buying an electric car.

-Shop sustainably. Shopping sustainably can mean buying clothes one or two times less than one normally would each month, buying from thrift/consignment shops, making your own clothes, buying from sustainable clothing brands, doing clothing swaps with friends, etc.

-Reducing the number of animal byproducts you consume. Reducing the number of animal byproducts does not need to mean going cold-turkey straight into veganism or vegetarianism, but it can mean making sure at least one meal/day a week you do not eat meat/eggs/milk/etc.

This is a short list of just some of the things we all can be doing in our daily lives to lessen our carbon footprint, if you want to find out your carbon footprint you can find it by using the Ecological Footprint Calculator by GFN. 

The easiest thing we can all be doing is making small changes in our own lives but what will make the largest difference is showing our government representatives that we want to hold larger companies accountable for their negative environmental impacts. This could be raising environmental standards for factories, making companies pay a carbon tax, or more. Making your voice heard through posting on social media, protesting, and more against companies that are taking the most resources causing the large deficit is key in reversing climate change and we are the perfect generation to make this happen. 

It is not too late to save our planet, or at the very least lessen what extreme effects climate change will have on our planet. We may only have ten years, but if there is anything Generation Z can do best is get an assignment done right before the due date; so please take this as a message and make a difference because quite literally the fate of the world depends on us.

The Pony Express is committed to publishing a diverse range of articles.  We would like to hear what you have to say. If you are interested in writing in an article for The Pony Express please contact smhsponyexpress@gmail.com.

Anna Kilgariff

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