Bridging the Age Gap in Climate Action
In Austin, what some may call the heart of Texas, a diverse group of young individuals recently gathered for the National Millennial and Gen Z Community (NMGZ) field trip, brought together by a shared passion for communication – and seemingly sharing a concern for our planet's future too.
As the only participant without ties to the US, I was invited on the trip through Radius CPH, my workplace based in Copenhagen, Denmark, and its connection to IW Group, organizers of the trip – both Worldcom Public Relations Group members.
In my eyes, a workshop with Niyanta Spelman, the CEO of Rainforest Partnership, an environmental organization, constituted one of the trip’s highlights. During the workshop, two questions we, as Gen Zs, were trusted to answer were:
"What can Gen Zs do to help older Americans see things from their perspective? What kind of economic, workplace, and social power do Gen Zs have and how can they use it?"
This question forms the basis of my reflections.
At the heart of this issue lies an undeniable fact: that climate change is not just a problem for one generation to solve. It is a collective challenge that transcends age, ethnicity, and geography. And young people, like those in the NMGZ, hold a pivotal role in not only addressing climate change but also in convincing older generations to take climate action seriously. And this all begins with communication, both on an interpersonal level and on a broader scale.
One of the powers of communication lies in its ability to create bridges of understanding between different generations. It's not about pitting one group against another but finding common ground and shared values.
Climate change is a challenge that transcends generational boundaries. It affects us all. Young and old, Gen Zs and baby boomers alike. For that reason, it's crucial to remind older generations that it's their children and grandchildren's futures that are at stake.
This approach taps into a shared concern for family and future generations. It reminds us that we all have a stake in the outcome, regardless of age. Moreover, fostering intergenerational dialogue is essential. We must be willing to listen to the experiences and concerns of older Americans, understand their viewpoints, and find common ground. For instance, studies indicate that as individuals age, they tend to become more altruistic.
Harnessing this altruism amongst our elders can benefit us all in our collective efforts to combat climate change. It is a matter of both patience and the willingness to emphasize the urgency of climate change to individuals who may not receive the same level of information bombardment as us Gen Zers, who are constantly exposed to social media and online news.
Looking ahead, it is worth noting that Gen Z is poised to constitute 27 percent of the workforce by 2025. This demographic shift presents a significant opportunity for our generation to lead by example within our workplaces, championing sustainable practices and advocating for change.
By showcasing our commitment to environmental causes, we can inspire older generations to join us on this critical mission.