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The Children, They Know: Gen Z & Climate Anxiety

Originally published on January 5, 2021

My #OneGreenThing is thinking about Gen Z and the climate crisis.

Here are my Gen Zers way back when in Hanna Andersen & lots of Christmas excess. This was 12 years ago.

Here’s what no one tells you about parenthood.

They - your kids — will hold you accountable for what’s going on in the world. We all know we are responsible for our kid’s safety. But what about their future? Their initial darling “why?”s and “what’s that” as they are toddlers become much more challenging questions over time.

All that social media? It’s not just about parties and who is with whom. It’s newspaper articles. It’s scientific research. It’s world trends.

This Gen Z is smart. They want answers. They want change. They want to be heard. How do to move from protest to policy? They need our help. And when it comes to climate, we are running out of time.

My #OneGreenThing today — Talk to your kids about the climate crisis.

You might be surprised what they think & how much they know. And listen - really listen - to what they are saying and about what they think the future will look like.

We can fix it. We can. We’ll soon have a national climate team that is focused on the crisis. We have to have big policy solutions but we also need culture change so they work.

And then let’s take a simple action each day toward a healthier, greener, more equitable world.

Even a conversation counts as a #OneGreenThing. It’s that daily intention that can drive culture change.

Our kids get the climate crisis. They know we must act and we can’t wait for them to fix it. They know we can create a better world. And they need us to take action.

I’d like to think of this better world “as the place where the sidewalk ends and before the street begins” in Shel Silverstein’s iconic poem. “For the children they mark, and the children, they know/ The place where the sidewalk ends.”

We can “leave this place where the smoke blows black” and “asphalt flowers grow” and create a regenerative, sustainable world.

This intergenerational partnership on climate action can be joyful, hopeful and fun.


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