For Gen Z, aged roughly 10 to 25, climate change is personal. Within the short time they’ve spent on Earth, record-breaking wildfires risk becoming the new normal and hurricane relief funds flood their social media feeds as often as branded content.
The equally personal inaugural protest by one familiar face of climate-change activism — Greta Thunberg’s 2018 solo sit-in outside Sweden’s parliament at age 15 — has now turned into its own global storm.
Her campaign, Fridays for Future, which leads several awareness efforts, is still fundamentally based on turning Fridays into a school skip day for attention on global warming’s harmful effects. In 185 countries, an estimated 7.6 million people have attended Fridays for Future climate strike, by one count.
Far from the early days of signs with block letters in marker, the campaign’s U.S. effort will kick off this Friday’s protest with a polished video titled “We Don’t Care.”
In it, young people skateboarding, dancing or giving the camera a shrug-off, mimic familiar refrains generally credited to older generations when it comes to global warming nonchalance.
“Have you seen how much it rains? We’re fine,” one actor says. “Who cares? Let’s make money,” offers another.
“There are a lot of positives to global warming,” one more pipes in.
Ending with an earnest call-to-action, Fridays for Future ponders: “If we don’t care about climate change, who will?”
The U.N.’s climate panel has warned that global warming of 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless rapid and deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse-gas emissions occur in the coming decades. The burning of oil
gas and coal are the largest contributors to speeding up global warming.
Some 76% percent of this Gen Z considers climate change among the biggest societal concerns, according to a 2021 Pew Research survey. And maybe for good reason. A report out in 2021 said today’s kids will live through three times as many climate-change disasters as their grandparents.
“Juxtaposing the same rhetoric stubbornly upheld over the last three decades with these fashionable adolescents, the spot establishes urgency while its stars skateboard, sing, and mess around without a care in the world,” the Los Angeles creative agency FRED & FARID said of the video, in a release.
“Although the energy of the film is lighthearted, enriched with the flair of a ‘90s public service announcement, the message at its core is paramount,” they said. “We need to turn familiar apathy into serious concern, and serious concern into immediate change.”
No doubt for some of Gen Z, and younger millennials, issues like global warming, rising sea levels and drought-induced hunger are impacting life decisions. An Earth Day study last year found young adults increasingly believing it’s “morally wrong” to have children because of climate change.
Some also likely see opportunity to be part of the solution. The number of jobs in renewable energy worldwide, for instance, increased in 2020 despite the huge economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.