Young people are scared for the future.
And, I (a man of 50) can totally relate.
The climate crisis is top of mind for them, painting a sometimes dreary and even terrifying image of the future. Racing toward a world of rising seas, increased temperatures, eco-migrations, and the destruction of millions of more species, well yeah, who wouldn’t feel scared?
When I was a kid my biggest fear was World War III. Don’t laugh. There’s a comparison here, even if it’s loosely. I was a child of the late seventies and eighties, the latter part of the Cold War, when the big bad Soviet Union was a thing and we thought one day someone on either side would launch the nuclear arsenal at the other, thus ending the world.
Fears of nuclear holocaust were real. It was in our movies and pop culture, from War Games, an animated movie that still gives me the heebee-jeebies, and of course, this movie.
We were literally frightened by the idea of a nuclear holocaust world. And we pictured it like something out of Escape from New York or the Terminator. Seriously, it scared the hell out of us. And strange that lately, with Russia attacking Ukraine, we’re once again talking nuclear war.
But, besides that issue, that fear we had, that is back. Today, young people are envisioning a terrifying future. At the center of it all, once again, our technology. I’m amazed there aren’t more movies that translate that fear. And no, I’m not counting The Day After Tomorrow. That was, as our friends across the pond like to say, shite!
For the record, I don’t believe that fear of a future shaped by climate change will be anywhere near as bad as a nuclear holocaust. For one, we’re not going to eliminate all of life. Yes, we will eliminate a ton of species and destroy many natural habitat that will never be replaced. But, as for us humans, we’ll still be around. The world will just seem very different, and in some cases not for the better.
The climate crisis will bring on a very different destructiveness. Temperatures will rise, thus changing weather patterns. What used to be hundred-year storms and events are happening with greater frequency. Seas are rising which are slowly forcing many cities on the coast to recede back as the water takes prime real estate. Millions of people, especially within the U.S. will become eco-refugees. All of this will cause social, economic, and political strife. If you think our nation (speaking of the US again) is divided now. Life will change dramatically in the future if we continue on this path. We will survive. We’ll just have to adapt to a very unpleasant world.
That’s the basis of a new project I’m working on, a podcast, and novel, about the future and how the climate crisis will impact the lives of future generations. It’s called Planet Earth 2072.
The novel is a collection of twelve stories. Six take place in Miami and the other six happen in Las Vegas. Though they’re separate stories, all of them are connected and are occurring during the first week of August in the year 2072.
The podcast is not fiction, or in this case science fiction. It’s a collection of conversations with the younger generation, GenZ, and their feelings about their future. We also talked to scientists, engineers, and politicians who are actually trying to do something about that future.
The validity of climate change is – sadly – still debated, though I believe that is changing slowly. Deniers are running out of excuses and the evidence of a heating planet is hard to call a hoax. Also, the climate crisis is not a problem for the future, it’s something we’ve been living with for quite some time.
Here’s a fascinating and frightening scale. Punch in your hometown and the year of your birth. For some of you, if you’ve lived for at least forty years or more, there will be some dramatic changes in temperatures over that time. If you want to see really scary changes, check out my hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico fifty years ago and see just how much the planet is warming.
I feel for the younger generation, and I understand their fears. The future appears grim.
As a planet we found a way to stave off, for the most part, nuclear annihilation. People from all sides, Democrats, Republicans, independents, even anarchists understood the dangers and they all came together to end the Cold War.
So here we find ourselves wondering, is the climate crisis something that will rally us together in this fight? Because this time it’s going to take more than just two super powers to sit down and hash it out. We have to convince the biggest countries and the richest corporations to change their ways and put the planet ahead of profit.
Can it be done? Sure. Will we though?