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Guest Opinion: Younger Generations Are Concerned About Climate Change and Are Ready to Take Action – Community Contributor
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Guest Opinion: Younger Generations Are Concerned About Climate Change and Are Ready to Take Action – Community Contributor

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Climate change is a topic that has been making headlines. There are predictions about rising sea levels and droughts that could cause flooding and crop damage, as well as severe weather that could produce more destructive hurricanes or tornadoes.

There is hope. The younger generation, who are pessimistic their elders will do enough for climate change mitigation, is poised to take the lead.

The melting polar ice caps threaten wildlife and humans. Image by Blastingnews.

“When I talk to people in my generation, the Baby Boomer generation, I have to explain exactly what climate change is,” he says. “They may argue with me. They might deny climate changes. I’ve spoken at events and been openly heckled by climate deniers from my generation.

“But the younger generations see things differently. They look at older Americans and say, ‘You’re leaving us a world in peril. We’re going to do something about it.’ ”

Climate Anxiety: How to Cope

Harris Poll and National 4-H Council conducted a survey and found that 84% of teens ages 13-19 believe climate change will affect all generations. Similarly, 62% believe older generations have had a negative impact on the environment.

“And they’re right,” says Dalene, who is president and CEO of Telemark Inc., a construction services business that has become a leader in embracing the latest in energy efficiencies. “The sad truth is my generation screwed up a lot.”

Some young people are so worried they suffer from eco-anxiety and climate anxiety. A recent study published in The Lancet surveyed 10,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 25 in the United States as well as nine other countries.

The survey revealed that all respondents were concerned about climate change. 59 percent of those surveyed were very or extremely worried. More than half of respondents reported feeling guilty, sad, anxious, angry and powerless to do anything about climate change. More than 45 percent reported that climate change negatively affected their daily lives and function.

However, 77% felt they had a responsibility to save the planet’s future and the same percentage felt empowered to do so.

Dalene is doing his part to make amends to his generation. He created ICEMAN (International Carbon Equvalent Mechanism Attributed for Neutrality), a system that gives businesses a snapshot showing the carbon emissions generated through their products, processes or services.

‘How Can We Fix This?’

The ICEMAN system, which businesses could use for free, assigns an index number based on a product’s greenhouse emissions. Dalene would like to see the system implemented nationally so consumers would be aware of what a company’s carbon emissions level is. He is certain that the market will take over from there.

“People in the younger generations understand that it is their responsibility to make things better,” Dalene says. “As consumers, they are willing to spend a little more money to effectuate that change, knowing that it will save them – save them money, save their lives, save the planet– in the long run.”

Dalene says one bit of good news he sees is that younger generations are starting “to open my generation’s eyes.”

“We’re starting to understand that what we did was wrong,” he says. “Now we have to correct it, before handing the planet over to our children. We have the opportunity to bring about a change in the environment. This includes all the negative actions that we have taken since the Industrial Revolution. We have the chance to say, ‘How can we fix this? How can I as an individual take responsibility to make this planet a better place?’ ”

Frank Dalene, President and CEO of Telemark Inc. is the author of Decarbonize the World. Solving the Climate Crisis while Increasing Profits for Your Business ()



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