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The climate crisis - the generation Z version

They are the children of the summer of 2023: a new Israeli study examined who are the Israeli youth who choose to take part in environmental movements - and found caring alongside a high level of climate anxiety, and also a clear demand of those young people for support from the education system

By Neta Nissim - Angle - Science and Environment News Agency

The youth who decide to take part in protest movements like these - deal with the issue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Photography: Ilan Bar
The youth who decide to take part in protest movements like these - deal with the issue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Photography: Ilan Bar

I don't feel there is hope. I do this when in fact I think that everything is already lost," a young girl, who is active in the youth fight against the climate crisis, tells us. "But at the same time, no matter how bad the situation will be - I also don't want to be one of those who just let it happen."

The fight against the global crisis burning in the hearts of some teenagers in Israel - and you can understand them: in the end, it's about their future here on Earth. Now, a new Israeli study that has not yet been published and that was presented in51st Annual Conference on Science and the Environment of the Israeli Association for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, examine what are the characteristics and motivations of Israeli girls and boys who choose to be active for the environment in general and against the climate crisis in particular - and what difficulties they encounter on their challenging path.

Young people care

There is no doubt that the climate crisis is already here, And we hear about the changes he is creating in the world in the news and often feel them in our flesh: Extreme heat waves, floods and floods, in prolonged forms, huge fires and diseases that come to life are only some of its severe effects.

As mentioned, a situation where the youth take an active part In the fight against this crisis - it is not accidental: those who are going to live for many more years on our planet, find themselves worried and anxious in the face of the extensive changes that are taking place on it. However, in Israel, where the proportion of youth activists is relatively low relative to their number in the population - the first youth activity on the subject Held only in March 2019.

But who are those boys and girls who do join the struggle - and what do they think of the situation? The new study, conducted at the Center for Sustainability Education at the Kibbutz Seminary and conducted by Aya Natan, a master's degree student, and under the direction of Dr. Dafna Gan, examined those young people and their approach to the situation. For this, Raina gave 19 youth activists: 12 young women and 7 young men aged 22-13.

Climatic anxieties

A main finding of the study is that among many teenagers, the activist activity that takes place alongside the deepening of knowledge on the subject - develops negative feelings in them, such as frustration, despair, fear of the future and even Climate anxiety. "I think that if everyone understood what was happening, many of us would suffer from such anxiety, because as soon as the token falls regarding what a huge disaster is happening around us - it's very hard not to feel that way," shared one of the interviewees.

According to Natan, this find left a strong impression on her. "One of the things that surprised me during the work is the depth of the constant anxiety that exists among these youth," she says. “Everyone was talking about it; There were those who said that they functioned with the anxiety alone and there were those who sought help."

During the interviews, the participants raised questions about the role of the Israeli education system in providing support and an emotional envelope to youth who are active on the issue - for example, with the help of connecting with professionals in the field and by imparting tools for correct and balanced civic action in schools. "The interviewees talked about how they would like the education system in Israel to focus on three aspects: providing factual knowledge regarding the situation, providing practical tools for leading a protest and learning about ways to find solutions to the issue, and above all - as mentioned, their main demand is to receive an emotional envelope from the school; One that will help them deal with the issue", says Natan. "In my eyes, it's amazing that these young people know how to demand what they need."

Devoted to the protest

According to Natan, the youth who decide to take part in protest movements of this kind - deal with the issue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "Their work is voluntary and sometimes comes at the expense of their study time: some of them claimed that they knew they could get a 95 in one or another matriculation, but because of their commitment to the subject, their grades will definitely be lower," she says.

The research shows that the active youth come from leading and well-regarded schools in the center of the country such as Kfar Hirok, Ohel Shem in Ramat Gan, YASA in Jerusalem and the Arts High School in Ramat Hasharon - as well as from families with a high socioeconomic status.

In addition, according to Natan, all the interviewees heard about the subject from friends and social networks and a minority of them came to the field through a discussion that took place at their parents' house. "But none of the interviewees came to the activity as a result of studying the subject in the education system," she testifies.

"At school, I didn't hear about the climate crisis - maybe the topic was mentioned occasionally in science classes, but they didn't delve into it, what it says about us or what consequences this situation has," says one of the participants in the study.

And meanwhile, in the schools

So what is really happening in the education system? A dedicated program on the climate crisis was introduced into the classrooms only in the last year. According to Natan, all the interviews in the study took place last summer, before the introduction of the field of climate education into the education system. "It will be interesting to check whether the perceptions and thoughts of the youth regarding the issue have changed as a result," she says.

According to her, the main conclusions that emerge from the research are the need to make the subject accessible in schools and to teach about active citizenship - and above all, appropriate support for those who deal with the subject. "The research allows the youth to make their voices heard and to demand from the educational institutions and the government a holistic attitude that corresponds to their perception of the world and the changes that are taking place in it," says Natan.

"This is the thing that is hovering over all of our heads right now - and we don't pay enough attention to it," concludes one of the youth who participated in the study. "The facts need to be taught, in a way that is related to all areas of life."

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