Climate crisis and Gen-Z: Why we desire more action

The root cause of climate change continues to remain unaddressed

By Sam Jabri-Pickett

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Published: Thu 13 Jun 2024, 8:46 PM

This April, the UAE and Dubai, in particular, experienced unprecedented rainfall, the heaviest in 75 years. Tanzeed Alam, managing director of Earth Matters, explains that extreme weather conditions, such as the April rainstorm, will be more common as global temperatures rise. “We are going to see extreme (weather) events become more frequent and intense. The one-in-75-years storm could happen once every 20, 15 or 10 years.”

Climate change is the existential threat of our time, but it doesn’t seem likely that it’ll be fixed until ‘our time’ has passed. With temperatures rising and natural disasters taking place more often, there is a growing sense of hopelessness about the future in Gen-Z worldwide.


Studies have found that over the past five years, climate change has become a talking point globally. Data shows that more young people now count climate change as a burning issue. It evokes strong emotions, all while terms like ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’ and ‘greenhouse effect’ are, incorrectly, used interchangeably.

The root cause of climate change remains unaddressed. Countries that can get off oil have not done so, while those that cannot — especially the UAE — are doing far more. This includes the work done by the government and stakeholders, such as reducing emissions by ending flaring, burning of petrochemical waste and developing green goals for 2030.


Despite ongoing efforts, Gen-Z desires more action. Older generations, however, are reluctant. They believe government alone can solve these problems without young people’s activism and solution-oriented debates on climate change. In reality, it seems Gen-Z, a generation most politically vocal about climate change, will be left to clean up the Earth. No enjoying trees planted by our grandparents, while shorter winters, longer summers, and once-in-a-century floods start happening every few years.

Mitigation seems to be the answer: getting off fossil fuels and pulling plastic out of the ocean, ending the destruction of the ‘world’s lungs’ (read rainforests) and pulling plastic out of the ocean (between 200-400 million tonnes to go). But mitigation isn’t enough, we’re past the warming threshold. So, what are young people to do with the problem before them?

Restoration.

When your car does not start, you don’t replace the engine. You check the oil or battery, maybe the transmission. You should probably take it to a professional and trust their opinion, someone educated to handle these things, and not say “that’s just your opinion”. But if the car is important enough to you, you would replace the engine.

Earth is our car. It needs gas, an oil change, new brake pads, a new transmission, and new tyres, but the boomers tossed us the key as is.

Given this, Gen-Z must start fighting back. While I will explore the ‘restoration-versus-mitigation (versus adaptation)’ debate next week, for now, think on this: will it be Gen-Z who heals the world, or simply kicks the can down the road? Young activists like Greta Thunberg are just the tip of the quickly-melting iceberg, and Gen-Z knows ending fossil fuel use and converting to renewable energy is not just the start; it’s the bare minimum.

wknd@khaleejtimes.com



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