Generation Zero – What Future?

Generation Zero - What Future?Once upon a time there was a generation of young people, full of aspiration and hope that their lives would be better than the ones their parents and grandparents have had. Growing older, this generation then went into business, politics, sports and culture – just like all the others before. Houses grew larger, cars bigger, the regular overseas vacation became the most normal thing to do. Happy lives of plenty and peace, forever and ever.

Unfortunately, for most young people today, such a life is about to become a tale of the past. Be it Los Indignados in Spain or Generation Zero in Aotearoa New Zealand: it’s the young generation that realizes how much there is to lose from bad decisions today, but also how much there is to gain from taking action to protect their future.

Generation Zero – Uncertain Future

What has changed? Today’s young people might still dream and make plans, but – unlike previous generations – few will have it better than their parents. Not only because wages hardly rise, but also because most “secure” work places of the past are about to disappear. Formerly well established industries are slowly dying off, and new ones struggle to evolve.

However, the difference goes much deeper than that. Free market capitalism itself, the system that we rely on and take for granted, has become weak and unreliable. Or is it us and our culture?

On another front, where many of the older, “established” generations still refuse to “believe” in climate change and global warming, the young know all too well that in the end it will be on us – and our children – to clean up the mess, to adapt and fight; for food and water, against floods, storms and droughts.

Considering all the inevitable changes and systemic adjustments that lie ahead, we find it surprising – if not very concerning indeed – that governments know no better than applying old formula to new equations. Or why is it that well-situated countries, such as New Zealand, put their bets on new streets, more cars and offshore oil drilling when a boost in green technologies and energetic self-sufficiency is what future generations will benefit from most?

Why does it take so long for countries to abolish the outdated GDP and economic growth paradigm and start account for gross happiness instead? Clearly, generation zero has many questions, and a lot to do. No need to despair though. History shows that when the time is ripe, things change fast. And if not, well, hope dies last.

More on los indignados and the generation zero appeal. Picture credit: conorwithonen

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5 thoughts on “Generation Zero – What Future?

  1. My advice to generation zero is to be critical of junk. Demand good healthy well insulated housing and good healthy locally grown food and they will be more wealthy than their parents in ways unimaginable in the past and have the health to enjoy it. Too much stuff has iconized itself around our waistlines and shortened our productive lives. Solutions to so many problems abound: solutions to world population involve social equality, the education of women and empowerment of the individual to control her own fertility. Algal bio-fuels can keep the planes in the air once this transition period is over.
    Times of change are always scary just as they are always interesting. The Luddites were right to critique the destruction of the artisan by the rising fossil fuel powered industry but no one wants to go back there. The Afa depression affords an opportunity to exploit bountiful hydroelectric power sustainably if done correctly in the poorest region of the world to promote development without the need to resort to fossil fuels. What’s to complain about in a smaller McMansion?

  2. I should also note that GDP improves as the divorce rate goes up therefore a very poor measure of economic well being

    • Good point, Sue. Not only the divorce rate though: Wars, environmental pollution, irresponsible financial speculation – the whole lot of unsustainable action is good for GDP and bad for humanity.

  3. Pingback: Blogging for a Sustainable Future | Generation Zero - what future?

  4. We had Louis and Bridget from Generation Zero on the radio last week. I really like their approach to a positive engagement – both of their own generation and others. Politicians look out – this generation is getting organised, knows what it wants, and won’t fall for youth washing. Podcast here:

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