Why many Gen Z youth are ‘lying flat’ on climate change
- Apocalyptic memes and the ‘smiling face with tear’ emoji express the sentiments of a generation tired of watching governments and businesses stall on addressing climate change, even as dire warnings of extreme weather events grow
You don’t need to go far to find one, two or a million “end of the world” memes online. These viral offerings have evolved as a way to comfort ourselves with dark humour.
It’s no wonder we need more memes to cope with life’s most pressing questions.
Extreme heat events include the Angry Summer of 2012-13 that saw more than 70 per cent of Australia experiencing extreme temperatures, the Brisbane heatwave of 2014 and the Queensland heatwave of 2018. Not to mention the most recent heatwave that ravaged the east coast, the Black Summer bush fires of 2019-20, which burned 46 million acres of land, resulted in over A$100 billion (US$72.75 billion) in costs and economic damages, and left skies red with poisonous toxins for months after the fires burned out.
The appearance in 2020 of the “smiling face with tear” emoji was timely, expressing our collective sentiments during the pandemic. We have been fighting a virus, surviving lockdowns, trying to study or work online while maintaining human connections, all while the world around us is on fire.
Is it any wonder that many of us want to both laugh and cry? It seems as if no matter how many protests you attend, the government and corporations just don’t get it.
The companies that put out public relations campaigns encouraging you to do your bit are the same ones mining hectares of land, spilling oil into the oceans and doing everything other than trying to use their money, influence and grip on the world to find greener and cleaner solutions.
Tired, depressed, battling media fatigue, we circle back to our niche communities on online discussion platforms like Reddit to find solitude.
It appears that years of research telling us we are done for is not enough to provoke action. The IPCC report essentially warns that we are headed for disaster unless we take immediate action. The floods, wildfires, heatwaves and rising sea levels still don’t seem to be enough to entice governments to act.
Perhaps it is only when such extreme weather events destabilise the economy and affect business interests that those in power will exert themselves to make the changes we know we need.
Mia Castagnone joined the Post as a Graduate Trainee in 2021. Born and raised in Australia, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications and Chinese Studies from the University of Sydney