Climate anxiety — a GenZ superpower?
Have you ever been described as ‘too much?’ Too worried? Too… anything. What if our too much is actually our superpower? Does the below resonate with you?
In the words of Glennon Doyle of Untamed: "Every world changer’s work begins with a broken heart. Heartbreak delivers your purpose. If you are brave enough to accept that delivery and seek out the people doing that particular world changing work, you find your people."
The climate is my ‘heartbreak.’ Climate anxiety is my ‘too much.’
My dad has watched my ‘too much’ for twenty years, acting as a sounding board for my rants or my tears. Unbeknown to me — it was changing him. His mindset, his lifestyle and his approach to business has become radically greener. I am not the only child out there with this influence. It’s called pester power.
My burning question is — what if I had had the tools and an understanding of relative impact growing up? Could we have had renewable energy and an electric vehicle instead of settling at a recycling bin?
It’s easy to dismiss climate anxiety as a middle-class problem. To have the time to worry about something so ‘abstract’ instead of putting food on the table. But the 75% of GenZ with climate anxiety are not middle-class ‘worriers’. They might not be painted green stood outside parliament, but they are in every country, in every part of society — going about their lives feeling utterly powerless.
But feelings are powerful.
When Tessa Clarke built Olio - the food sharing app in 2015, she built it because of a physical unease at throwing good food into the bin. She’s built a global business on the back of a feeling. Feelings are underrated. Feelings can drive ambition that changes social norms globally. Feelings can bring society together.
GenZ’s climate anxiety shouldn’t be a burden to shy away from. It’s a siren to say ‘we are ready — give us the tools.’ We are totally underestimating their potential to reduce household emissions at scale.
Climate anxiety is GenZ’s superpower
Heat pump? I don’t even know what one does. LED lights? Is it really worth the hassle? Eco-setting? How can a longer cycle be better for the environment? Energy? How boring.
We are human. GenZ needs us to tap into their needs. How can they reduce emissions in a way that’s fun, that’s social, that’s easy, that’s rewarding?
If you’re climate anxious, you’ve every reason to be. The latest IPCC report (summary here) really brings the urgency of the situation home: we need to ‘triple the speed of transition to renewable energy’ to keep the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5° alive.
But I for one am hopeful. We may have ignited GenZ activism thanks to Greta, but we haven’t yet harnessed their action potential at scale. They were born ready for this challenge - the time is now. It is not too late.