Eliana Finberg: AP Environmental Science Spurs Action (OGT Intergenerational Voices Series: Essay #6

The news this week is especially grim. As of this moment, Yellowstone National Park is closed due to unprecedented flooding in Montana creating devastating impacts to the park and to the residents of the area. At the same time, much of the country is gripped by record heat with heat indexes well over 100 degrees. No matter the headlines, at OneGreenThing, one of our goals is to stop talking AT younger generations and to encourage everyone to listen TO younger generations, from 20-something Millennials to Gen Z and Gen Alpha, the generations who will inherit the Earth.


As part of our continued commitment to elevating voices of GenZ, we are encouraging our GenZ advisory board to share their experiences and reflections. Today, we are happy to share the insights of Eliana Finberg, a rising senior from Maryland.


By Eliana Finberg


Last year, I chose to take AP Environmental Science for my science credit. I took it because my chemistry teacher, whom I like, teaches the class (and also because I didn’t want to take physics). I didn’t know much about the class going into it, only that it was more of a social studies science.


We started off the class by learning about ecosystems, and the different nutrient cycles. We built eco-columns, and raised fish that became entirely dependent on nutrients from the terrestrial ecosystem above it. I learned first hand how every habitat is connected, and how the removal of a single species could irreversibly change an entire ecosystem. Relating this to the new and old changes to the global environment, I realized how detrimental a loss of a species or an extinct species could be.


I’ve learned about all of the wind patterns, ocean upwelling, and types of irrigation. Though I’ve never considered myself to be interested in the environment, this class opened my eyes to the immensity of nature out there. I’ve seen documentaries with stunning scenery, studied how the dissolved oxygen rate of water affects a fish’s health, and gone outside to observe the environment around me. The exposure to the beautiful parts of nature caused me to fall in love with the world, and want to explore as much of it as I can.


But in this class, we’ve also learned about deforestation, different types of air pollution, and the impacts of overfishing. I've walked into class feeling excited for what we’re learning, but leave feeling hopeless, that there’s nothing that I can do to save the environment. The Earth is too big and in too much trouble, and I am just one person.


And that’s where One Green Thing comes in: a way to deal with the feeling of hopelessness, which I’ve since learned is called eco-anxiety. One Green Thing offers concrete ways for everyone to help reduce climate change, specific to the type of person that you are.


Even if you think that climate change doesn’t affect you, it does.


Because everything in the world is so connected, climate change is a problem for everyone and everything everywhere. The air we breathe, the nutrients and food we consume, the oceans we swim in, it’s all affected by this issue that is still considered to be political. But this is not the time to pick sides. Once it’s too late, money can’t control where the natural disasters hit or which kids will get asthma–according to the EPA, ground level ozone can increase the frequency of asthma attacks.


But it’s not too late yet: there are still things that everyone can do to help save the environment, from calling your local and state politicians to teaching your friends about the harmfulness of single use plastic.


There is something for everyone, and if we all work together, we can save this planet we call home.


OGT Gen Z Advisory Board member Eliana Finberg is a rising senior from Takoma Park, Maryland.