By Madeleine Muzdakis on September 13, 2021
The future belongs to the young.
The youth of Generation Z were born into a world of cellphones and streaming video. Despite the technical fluency attributed to their childhood in the digital age, the generation also shares some overwhelming concerns. Chief among these is the climate crisis, which can no longer be described as “impending” but rather already happening. Unprecedentedly concerned with the causes and unequal effects of rising temperatures and severe weather, Gen Z is transforming their concern into action by pursuing careers in an unprecedented number of climate fields.
According to a 2021 Pew Research study, 67% of Gen Z (typically defined as born after 1996) believe that the “climate should be a top priority to ensure [a] sustainable planet for future generations.” Millennials largely share this concern, while Baby Boomers lag about ten points behind. Gen Z is also most likely to have personally taken climate action in the past year. These young people have grown up in the era of fairly well-accepted notions fo climate change. The difference is that—unlike Boomers and their elders—the young will live to see the increasingly catastrophic effects which are virtually certain according to recent research.
This daunting picture is well-known to Gen Z. Colleges have seen a huge spike in interest over the past decade in climate-related studies. Once considered to be financially inadvisable, careers related to climate change are growing faster than many other industries and proving more bankable than was thought before. Climate-related jobs are also spread across fields from ecology to finance. “I decided to pursue this industry because I think I’m in the first generation who knows the extent to which climate change poses an existential threat to life on Earth, and also the last generation who may be able to do anything about it,” Rachel Larrivee, 23, a sustainability consultant based in Boston told The Guardian.[…]