Think American teen angst and you’ll be forgiven for remembering pop-culture icons like James Dean, Sandra Dee, The Breakfast Club, Nirvana and Twilight.
But problem parents, dating dramas, detention, grunge and romantically repressed vampires seem such quaint concerns compared with the conversations Gen Zed kids are having.
No kids: because of climate change
‘My friend and I were both talking the other day at school,’ says 16-year-old Seattle-based Jamie Margolin in a social media clip, ‘about how we never wanted to have kids, because climate change… will have made our… society so violent, unstable and unlivable that it would be cruel to bring anyone else into it.’
Jamie Margolin is the founder and president of Zero Hour Campaign, a climate-change youth movement based in the United States.
Thousands of Gen Zed activists in cities and towns across the United States and in London called on governments to divest from fossil fuels in a Youth Climate March on July 21st.
Youth in Kenya added their support with a mass planting of two thousand trees, Jamie said.
‘Being born in the two-thousands, there was never a time in my life when the planet was stable, there was never a time in my life where it wasn’t the hottest summer on record,’ she said, ‘there’s always been a sense of urgency.’
Climate-change money trail
Kids protesting on the streets might make good press but ‘you can’t just march and call it a day,’ said Jamie.
Zero Hour activists held a ‘lobby day’ to confront senators about links between climate change and political donations.
‘We handed them a no-fossil-fuel-money pledge because a lot of our leaders… are heavily armed by the fossil-fuel industry,’ said Jamie. ‘There’s a whole entanglement with campaign financing.’
‘Some senators have already pledged to stop taking money from fossil fuel,’ she said, ‘while others kept telling us, ‘we support what you’re doing’ but wouldn’t officially pledge to stop taking money.
‘Even on the liberal side of the United States, the Democrats, there are still several politicians, elected officials, who are still in the pockets of the fossil-fuel industry even though they say that they’re climate champions.’
Kids suing pollies for ‘destroying’ their future
Young Americans are also preparing to sue governments across all representative levels for failing to act on climate change earlier.
Juliana v the United States is a constitutional climate lawsuit scheduled for trial in the Supreme Court in late October, after failed efforts from the Trump administration to have the case dismissed.
‘We, as kids in the United States… have the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ said Jamie.
‘You cannot live in the pursuit of happiness without clean air, clean water, a liveable future, a liveable planet, a climate that isn’t falling apart.’
Youth are ‘suing over the fact that the United States government is actively destroying children’s futures,’ she said, naming environmental permits for polluters as an example.
The 21 Gen Zed plaintiffs wants a cour-mandated government climate-recovery plan rather than direct financial compensation.
‘The United States government would be forced to drastically reduce the emissions and drastically transition to renewables,’ said Jamie.
The Zero Hour climate change solutions can be seen online at thisiszerohour.org.
Closer to home, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (http://www.aycc.org.au) says it has 150,000 members.
To hear Jamie Margolin’s interview on Bay FM’s Community Newsroom https://bit.ly/2niMg5C.
* Gen Zed refers to people born since the year 2000.