A Millennials Perspective on Climate Change: Why It Needs a Rebrand
Yesterday marked the year anniversary of the United States pulling out of the global Paris Agreement. 365 days of our current administration saying to the rest of the world, that working together to address the most important environmental issue of our time, is in fact, not important. Climate change, a debated word in some areas of the world and unbeknownst in others, is still not entirely understood in its cause, effects, and even more so, it’s direction of destruction.
As a concerned millenial, I wonder where the disconnect lies within the knowledge and responsibility of what impact humans have on our planet. Why have the words “Climate Change” become so stigmatized, so intertwined with our current politics, and yet still so unaware to the masses on what the consequences are if we dont change our behaviors?
After many conversations, head scratches, and moments of eco-anxiety desperation, I’ve come to terms that as storytellers and changemakers- we are doing it all wrong. We are selling climate change as blatant, pointed-finger approach to our evolution of existence on this planet. Of course we want to deny anything is our fault, it’s human nature to not accept blame. However, humans appetite for the Earth’s resources have almost become too exhausting for our planet to handle, and now the problem we face is that the impact of humans is so much more than just our consumption of fossil fuels. It is the consumption of everything.
However, humans appetite for the Earth’s resources have almost become too exhausting for our planet to handle, and now the problem we face is that the impact of humans is so much more than just our consumption of fossil fuels. It is the consumption of everything.
We impact every sense of the word “climate” in our everyday consuming behaviors. The air and water. Our food, clothes, and materials. Our systems and basic life necessities. These all have a gross affect on our shifting global landscape, and at the same time, they are what everyone can relate to and understand. Our consumer behaviors are what make the dynamic complexities of mitigating climate change so difficult, so why aren’t we marketing it that way?
We’ve heard it all before: “Climate change isn’t real…” If you do not believe in proven, scientific-data that the high levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are human-caused, that is entirely your opinion. But, can you justify that the amount of plastic in our oceans, contaminants in our waterways, toxins in our food systems, deforestation of old growth rainforests, etc. – are not the fault of human activity? That we have no role in ecosystem and species destruction due to our high-demand of consumption on all levels? These compounded behaviors no doubt contribute to the growing issue of climate change, so why is this not packaged into the everyday, climate change rhetoric? Why have we had such a laser focus on carbon dioxide solely, when we all should know that in the big picture, anything that has to do with our environment is ultimately connected.
So my ask is this, can climate change undergo a makeover? Instead of focusing solely on our post-industrial pollution levels from human activity, can we shift the focus of what “climate change” means towards ALL anthropogenic behaviors. Originally, the term was global warming, and later evolved to “climate change” for technical and public perception reasons. However with today’s current culture, we have to elevate this message. What we need is a holistic and inclusive rebrand of all the elements affected by an increasingly warming planet. In essence, a message that speaks to everyone and has some semblance in each individuals daily life.
Today, we have the technology to make huge advancements in closing gaps in our outdated systems. We have the ability to share and accelerate new ideas and fixes than we ever had before. Why is that not the catalyst our global society needs? Because the solutions presented to us are not solutions. Even though they are attainable, to many they are idealistic. “Yes I heard that the climate is changing – but there is nothing I can do about it.” She can’t afford the new electric car in efforts to reduce her greenhouse gas emissions. He doesn’t have the means to invest in solar or green mutual funds. The college student tries to make their life easier by using single-use plastic items on the daily. That family doesnt have access to organic produce and are unaware of the destruction to soil, human health, and ecosystems from heavy (but what is now normalized) pesticide and herbicide usage.
But here’s the catch. As a millennial, I know that money was the main factor for baby boomers, patriotic elders and every decision made therein, whether personal or professional. However, my generation is rich with choice. We can choose what brands we want to buy from, we aren’t limited to just a few options. We can choose to use technology, apps and services to make our lives simpler and streamlined. We have access to more information to make informed sustainable decisions. Our generation thinks economic and environmental well-being is more important than the bottom line. We don’t have to buy the future, we can make it of our own choosing.
Our generation thinks economic and environmental well-being is more important than the bottom line. We don’t have to buy the future, we can make it of our own choosing.
So, can we take all the science, mystery, and policy away from what constitutes “climate change” and our environment’s future? Can we use our voices, our spending power, our valued rights to vote to support sustainable initiatives by including the systems that everyone can relate to (air, water, food, shelter)? Our wording of the issues and our inclusion of the sustainability chain of events is how our messaging must be shared if we want the climate crisis to become mainstream. No longer are the days of a polluted atmosphere, we now have a polluted Earth that needs fighting for. We have to shelf the words “climate change” – and start learning how to market “consumption change” to see any real progress on the frontlines of environmentalism.