Climate justice for the next generation
Climate justice for the next generation

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3.1 Are young people particularly environmentally conscious?

The high profile of campaigners such as Greta Thunberg has positioned children and young people at the forefront of climate change activism. The extensive coverage they are being given in the media has led many to ask whether this generation of young are particularly environmentally conscious. You will consider this question in the next activity.

Activity 4

Timing: Allow 15 minutes

In the following audio you will hear an interview between Heather Montgomery of the Open University and Peter Kraftl who is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Birmingham. Peter has worked extensively on children and the environment. In this interview he discusses the question of whether young people are particularly environmentally conscious and how this might differ cross-culturally.

Figure 8 Professor Peter Kraftl, Birmingham University

Listen to the interview, then, once you have finished, answer the questions below.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: audio_1_children_and_the_environment.mp3
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  • 1. Today’s young people are the first generation to realise the catastrophic effects of environmental damage.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is b.

  • 2. Environmental issues have been a social concern for several decades.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is a.

  • 3. Young people’s activism around climate change is more visible than before.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is a.

  • 4. Children in Brazil are more interested in debates around generational inequalities than their Western counterparts.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is b.

  • 5. Children in Brazil have a really rich and detailed understanding of the environment, but they learn about the environment in different ways and express that environmental knowledge in terms of questions of social justice and class related inequalities.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is a.

  • 6. Children in the West suffer from the impacts of climate change much more than those elsewhere.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is b.

  • 7. Many young climate activists tend to be white and privileged and some have expressed concerns that this might obscure the concerns and actions of poorer children outside the West

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is a.

While Peter Kraftl discusses the prominence of this generation in contemporary debates, he is cautious about claiming this as an entirely new phenomenon and argues that young people have always been activists and campaigned alongside other, older people. However, he does see today’s protestors as particularly visible and acknowledges that they have been at the forefront of many recent climate protests, highlighting the inter-generational aspects of the climate change debate.

The following section will further draw on Peter’s research interests, which focus more broadly on children’s relationship with the environment

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