Impact of Alcohol on The Ability of Youths Regarding Climate Change;
A Sobering Reality
Blue Cross Kenya.
Climate change is an unprecedented global challenge that demands urgent action from all segments of society, including the younger generation. Young people play a vital role in advocating for climate action and leading initiatives to protect the environment. In an era where climate change and environmental degradation are pressing concerns, the role of young individuals in shaping a sustainable world cannot be underestimated. One of the key tools in their arsenal is the acquisition of “Green Skills” – a set of knowledge and competencies that equip them to address environmental challenges and contribute to the creation of a more sustainable planet. This year’s International Youth Day theme; “Green Skills for Youth: For a Sustainable World” is focused on equipping young people with the skills and knowledge needed to contribute to a more environmentally sustainable future. It suggests a focus on educating and empowering youth to make positive contributions to environmental conservation, renewable energy, eco-friendly practices, and more. This theme supports engagement of young individuals in the global effort towards sustainability. The concept of “green skills” has emerged as a dynamic solution to equip youths with the knowledge and abilities necessary to contribute to a greener and more sustainable world. With their innovative thinking and determination, they hold the power to shape a greener and more sustainable world.
However, certain factors, such as alcohol consumption, impact youths’ ability to develop and utilize essential green skills as well as to engage effectively in climate change activism and take the necessary actions to combat this pressing issue. Alcohol consumption effects manifests in various forms such as:
- Cognitive Impairment; where it hinders youths’ capacity to effectively contribute to sustainable solutions by affecting critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making abilities. Green skills, such as analyzing complex environmental issues, formulating sustainable strategies, and implementing eco-friendly initiatives, demand sharp mental faculties that alcohol negatively affect.
- Reduced Focus and Creativity that is a driving force behind innovative sustainable practices. Alcohol’s impact on attention span and creativity hamper youths’ ability to brainstorm and implement new ideas for a greener world. Fostering creativity requires a clear and focused mind, which alcohol consumption disrupt. Alcohol’s impact on concentration and focus hamper youths’ dedication to climate action. Addressing climate change requires a sustained effort and unwavering commitment. Unfortunately, excessive alcohol consumption diverts their attention away from environmental concerns, leading to a lack of engagement or motivation.
- Lack of Energy and Motivation: Sustainability efforts often demand sustained energy and dedication. Alcohol can lead to fatigue, lack of motivation, and reduced physical energy, making it difficult for young individuals to actively participate in demanding projects, such as environmental clean-ups or renewable energy initiatives.
- Health and Well-being: Green skills are not only about external efforts but also about personal health and well-being. Alcohol consumption can impact physical health, mental wellness, and overall vitality. A healthy mind and body are essential for young people to fully engage in sustainable practices and contribute effectively to a more eco-conscious world.
- Alcohol’s Impact on Decision-Making and Behavior: Alcohol consumption can impair judgment and decision-making abilities. This can lead to choices that are detrimental to environmental preservation, such as wasteful consumption, reckless resource use, and disregard for sustainable practices. Climate change activism requires thoughtful and informed choices, from choosing sustainable practices to advocating for policies. Under the influence of alcohol, youths may make impulsive decisions or struggle to analyze complex environmental issues critically. Research studies have shown that alcohol negatively affects cognitive processes such as decision-making and problem-solving. (Smith et al., 2018; Johnson and White, 2019)
- Environmental Footprint of Alcohol: Beyond personal behavior, it is imperative to gauge the broader environmental repercussions of alcohol production and consumption. The mechanisms entailed in alcohol production, encompassing agriculture, transportation, and manufacturing, contribute sizeable carbon footprints that contribute to the climate crisis. Raising awareness regarding these repercussions can stimulate introspection among the youth, encouraging them to reevaluate their choices and explore alternatives.
- Reduced Participation in Activism: Youth-led climate movements have been at the forefront of raising awareness about environmental issues. However, alcohol abuse can limit their active participation in these movements. Inability to attend events, meetings, or protests due to intoxication or hangovers may hinder their contribution to the cause. A survey conducted by Green Youth Movement (2022) found that nearly 40% of young activists reported missing important climate action events due to alcohol-related issues.
In conclusion, there is need to Conduct Education and Awareness about the impact of alcohol on decision-making and the environment to empower them in making conscious choices, Create Supportive Networks that prioritize sustainable choices to help youth stay aligned with their green goals even in social settings, Conduct Green-Focused Events to provide alternatives that allow young individuals to engage socially while upholding their commitment to sustainability, Incorporate sustainability education into curricula at all levels including environmental science, climate change, sustainable economics, and resource management subjects, Enhance hands-on Learning through Practical experiences, such as community projects, green internships, and Eco-conscious initiatives to provide youth with tangible skills and a deeper understanding of sustainable practices, Implement training Programs where Government agencies, NGOs, and private organizations offer workshops, training sessions, and certifications that focus on green skills development and to take advantage of the digital space by understanding technologies related to energy efficiency, data analysis for environmental monitoring, and sustainable app development to greatly enhance green skills.