I recently learned that my two-year-old son Gabriel is part of Generation Z. Generation Z comes after the oft-discussed Millennial generation, but has not been defined in terms of what makes them unique.
Thinking about Gabriel and his generation in the context of climate change and the international climate negotiations, I realized that it is time to draw a definitive boundary between his generation and those that have come before him.
Perhaps, it would be best to rename the newest arrivals on this planet Generation G, signifying a massive global shift towards a green economy. I first heard this concept expressed during a discussion among leaders of international NGOs, grassroots movements, and the UN. Generation G. The G stands for global and green. The G defines the moment when world leaders came together and said enough is enough, the world is going to make this much-needed transition away from fossil fuels.
I can imagine that Generation G will grow up in a world that is quite different from the one we know today. Generation G is one that is powered by renewable and clean energy systems, is more energy efficient, and creates less waste.
Certainly with the technology that exists today, with the cost of renewable energy (which is at an all time low), and with the risks of climate change well-known, we can and must begin to make this transition. Could my son grow up unable to recognize the smell of gasoline at a gas station? Could he come of age having never plugged his devices into an electrical outlet powered by coal?
It is time for us to imagine what this new world could look like for our children, and to support actions and policies that ensure that we make this transition for the next generation.
I had a recent experience with my son that made me think that this transition is possible. It happened about six months ago just after he began talking. We were reading a book from the I-Spy series. I pointed at a telephone and was surprised to discover that my son had no idea what it was. But this makes sense. We do not have a landline in our house, and he has probably never seen an old fashioned telephone (outside of his grandparents’ house, perhaps). This phone or the image of the phone has quickly become an old relic, a symbol of the past.
This anecdote is so important and so revealing. There are many things that today that seem so ubiquitous that within a few years to a decade could become a thing of the past. Imagine a world where our children could not recognize a gas pump.
Of course, we can argue on what to call this new generation. We might call it the Renewables generation or Generation C for climate. Perhaps not surprisingly, I prefer Generation G, so that one day when my little Gabriel is grown up and looking at the new world that we have created for him and for his generation, I can explain how different his world is than the world that existed before. And I could tell him that secretly, we named it Generation G for Gabriel.
Co-founder and Co-Director Trisha Shrum brought a brought a personal message of hope and action to the UN climate change negotiations in Paris, please watch:
Jill Kubit is co-founder and co-director of DearTomorrow, an online community for people to read, write, and share messages to their youngest loved ones about their promise to take action on climate change. Deartomorrow.org is one of 14 founding member organizations of Our Kids’ Climate, a new international coalition of parents and grandparents groups working on climate change.