Gen Zs & Climate Change: Our voice matters, even if we haven’t found it yet

We know the world that we’re inheriting is ours to fix.

I am not an environmental writer. At the start of my internship at WWF, my editor hinted that writing a personal essay on what Gen Zs feel about climate change would be a refreshing angle. Four months in and I’m still struggling to pen my thoughts. 

Many people ask the question: Do Gen Zs care about climate change? 

But I don’t think that should be the real question. Over dinner, I brought up climate change to my group of friends. One readily talked about the melting permafrost, another got increasingly heated as he talked about our recently cleared woodland reserve. 

Gen Zs care about our climate. We know our world is burning. 

The problem is what happens after: usually, not much. I’m not to be excluded. Trying to go meatless every few days and making sure I bring my own container for takeaways sometimes feels like all I can do for the environment. 

Gen Zs are aware that the world is suffering and we do our part by drinking from metal straws. But how can we take up arms for climate action when we’re busy sorting out our own lives? 

It’s been a year since the pandemic, and we’ve seen an onslaught of natural disasters. Emma Marris, an environmental journalist, aptly wrote in ‘Inevitable Planetary Doom Has Been Exaggerated’ for The Atlantic: ‘We were so busy coping with immediate catastrophes, we had little time to make things better.’ 

I’m not here to make excuses or to decree that the burden of climate change should be lifted off our shoulders. We know the world that we’re inheriting is ours to fix. Yet the narrative of action has shifted from belief to something akin to obligation. 

The stress of shopping from fast fashion brands and the guilt of not recycling creep up frequently, but fade away when there’s an immediate problem or stress in our own lives. Trying to stop the world from overheating suddenly becomes a distant problem.  It’s one thing to sign online petitions and switch to metal straws and another to start engaging in conversations and asking for change. 

Much like political discourse and debates, there’s been more than once when I’ve felt like I don’t know enough to have an opinion. Maybe spending so much time on social media, where there are so many opinionated youths and leaders my age creating change and organising fundraisers have left me stressing about what I have to say.  There’s just too much I don’t know, so how can I have a voice?

But maybe I don’t need to have one. 

Sometimes, listening and learning is more than enough. And it’s the first step, albeit a tiresome but necessary one, to finding your voice. 

The first step: I spent my time scouring the internet to learn anything and everything about climate change and global warming; reading everything from articles, books and watching documentaries. 

It’s hard to know where to go when you have little time so I’ve collated some places to get your fill on all things climate. 

  1. Local news and blogs 

While climate change is very much a global issue, we need to know what’s happening on our own turf before anything else. I usually head to the environment section on The Straits Times for the latest news.

Also, the WWF-SG blog has the lowdown on the environment. From protecting endangered species, fighting (literal) fires and everything about saving the ocean. You’ll also find out about our latest campaigns and what you can do to help! 

  1. International Websites and Books 

Finding a trusted source in an era of fake news isn’t easy and most of the time, I don’t have the patience for it. 

My go-to website for climate change would definitely be The Atlantic. They’ve recently created a guide called ‘Planet’, specifically to tackle issues on climate change. 

I also frequent The New York Times, National Geographic and Aljazeera English for their articles too! While some of these sites have a limited number of articles you can access per month, be sure to check out whenever they have special promotions or packages. (If you’re currently studying, make sure to check if there’s a student discount.) 

Reading is always the answer anytime you’re embarking on learning anything new. Usually, I google the latest and most popular books about climate change (one with credible, good reviews) and branch out from there. 

I know reading books could be a difficult one. I barely have the time as well, so if you find yourself in a time crunch – Spotify is the answer. 

Audiobooks or podcasts are a lifesaver. Whether I’m waiting for the bus or making my dinner, these save so much of my time and make me feel like I’m actually being productive. 

(My current read: The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells.)

  1. Take part in campaigns and conversations 

This might seem cliche and even feel pointless, but petitions and online webinars are so important. If there’s anything the pandemic taught us, it’s that the world is shifting online and the Internet can do more than we ever thought possible.

It’s been less than 3 years since  WWF-SG’s Ivory Lane campaign, where we created a fake business selling ivory products, sparking outrage everywhere. This generated a global conversation that eventually led to a ban on all domestic ivory trade in 2019. 

We can make a difference. 

Even right now, you can help us fight for a net-zero carbon emissions future. What we need is to be carbon neutral by 2050, yet Singapore’s current policies see that we’ll still be emitting 33 million tonnes by then. 

According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), that’s the only way to put the world back on track. If we don’t? We’re on the fast track to our own extinction. 

Make your own Kosong Plan to fight for a carbon-free future! 

I know this may seem daunting, but no change comes without hard work. I’m the first to admit that on some days – I do none of this. And that’s okay. It’s about finding the balance and slowly committing snippets of your day to learn about our planet. 

I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel like I have a real grasp or footing on this whole climate thing because it changes every day. But climate change is a battle we’ll be fighting for a long time. We can struggle with it together and when you’re ready, we can start talking about it. 

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