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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Future Generation Looks Ahead

Air Date: Week of

Youth Radio producer Jacinda Abcarian interviews San Francisco Bay area teenagers on their concerns about growing up today, and their ideas for improving the environment tomorrow.


CURWOOD: As 1995 begins, we thought we'd take a look ahead through the eyes of young adults living in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Many young people feel overwhelmed by the environmental problems that they are inheriting from previous generations. Nonetheless, some young folks are also saying they can, and indeed must, try to make a difference. Jacinda Abcarian, a student at Laney College and a producer for Youth Radio in Berkeley California, has our report.

ABCARIAN: When my parents were growing up, litter was a problem, but today my generation is faced with much more serious environmental dangers such as global warming, chemical spills, and air and water pollution. Young people are growing up in a world full of problems created by decades or ignorance, neglect, and exploitation of the Earth. In a world where politicians are too caught up in self-interest to find long-term solutions, I wanted to know: do people my age see the world becoming any better within the near future?

MAN: No, because there are very few regulations here in the US, and outside of the US there are even, you know, less. And it's getting worse and worse outside the US because all these corporations that don't want to meet the regulations here are moving out to other countries.

WOMAN #1: I feel that maybe, in like 30 years from now, if we don't straighten out this problem now, you know we're going to have to walk around with an oxygen mask on because the pollution is going to be so bad.

WOMAN #2: I'm pretty scared about my environment, and scared about my future and other generations to come. And I think that if we don't start saving the planet and saving ourselves, then we'll all just perish. (Laughs) It's pretty depressing.

ABCARIAN: For some teens, environmental problems mean more than just trash and smog. They're concerned with their social environment and the way people treat each other.

MAN #1: I notice that there is more violence going on these days and there's, like, a lot less respect for people, you know, especially females, and that people in general don't have respect for each other any more.

MAN #2: You know, if you go to school or you be on the bus going to school, whatever, you know, there's kids looking at you, you know, and they just pick a fight on you. Or we go, like, to a party or something, and if you dance with this girl or if you step on somebody's toe or something, they're ready to shoot you, you know what I'm saying? All this stupid mess, you know, it don't make sense.

ABCARIAN: Although movements to save the planet are growing and spreading awareness, most young people still feel somewhat helpless when it comes to stopping the Earth's destruction. However, many will be taking steps in the New Year to try and make this world a better place.

WOMAN: #1: What am I doing? I'm trying to better myself by getting an education. So that I can possibly, one day, come back and give back to the community. Because I feel that's what the whole circle of life is about. Why be on this Earth and not give any input to make it better? You know, that's a waste of time.

MAN #1: I try not to eat meat. I mean, I continue to do that. I try not to now, because I've seen what it does, you know, what they have to do in order to get such, such a market for meat. I think, you know, if everyone just cut down a lot, you know, you'd have a big impact. So I try to do what I can.

MAN #2: Well, I throw the trash in the trash can. (Laughs) And that's about it. I think that, you know, people that work for the city, they should put out a little more, you know, people power out there to help clean, because pretty soon we're just going to be walking on trash.

WOMAN #1: I think if everyone worked together instead of constantly trying to do for themselves.

MAN #3: I would like to see the Earth not be exploited any more by imperialist countries who just seek money and will do anything to get it. You know, which means cutting down the rainforest, digging up the earth. And that's got to stop.

(Music up and under - Marvin Gaye: "Whoa, oh mercy, mercy me. Oh, things ain't what they used to be. No, no, where did all the blue skies go? Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and ...")

CURWOOD: Jacinda Abcarian is a producer for Youth Radio, a broadcast journalism training program in Berkeley, California. Her report was produced with help from Youth Radio's Ellen O'Leary and KPFA Radio.



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