The Pressure Of GEN Z: The Willow Project

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The term “Willow” has become popular among social media platforms and media networks. Despite the popularity of the subject, there is still a lack of clarity on what the Willow project is. The amount of information out there about it seems endless and difficult to grasp all at once. 

The Willow project is an oil drilling venture on Alaska’s North Slope in the National Petroleum Reserve, which the federal government owns. It’s estimated that the area holds a large quantity of oil, up to 600 million barrels: a goldmine for an oil company. 

The project is backed by the oil and energy company ConocoPhillips, which has leases on the land. The Trump administration originally approved Willow in 2020 and the project was again passed by current President Joe Biden on March 13, although with some changes. Climate activists are upset and confused by Biden’s decision because of his past statements in which he promised to end oil drilling on federal lands and to fight against climate change. 

The decision to pass Willow made headlines for its probable effect on the environment. There are estimates that Willow could create 70 million metric tons of additional CO2 in the United States emissions. The area that was once preserved for wildlife such as polar bears will become another breeding ground for potential oil spills.   

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The Willow project being passed has led to some eyebrows raised among the younger generations. Gen Z is in the midst of feeling the pressure of having to fix inflation, the housing crisis and especially global warming. Young people feel the pressure of knowing their future depends on fixing global warming and feel a great sense of existential doom about the future of the planet. A study published in “The Lancet Planetary Health Journal” surveyed 10,000 children and young people, ages 16–25 years old. The finding showed that “​​59% were very or extremely worried and 84% were at least moderately worried.” 

With the anxiety young people feel towards global warming, they have shown even greater strength in numbers on social media to get their points across. The passing of Willow, and the social media disruptions, protests and other displays that followed showcase younger generations’ power to band together in times of desperation. On TikTok, the hashtag #Stopwillow has videos that have been viewed millions of times. People have also been writing letters to the White House, asking President Biden to stop the Willow Project. A petition asking to stop Willow currently has almost five million signatures. 

This momentum on social media isn’t the first or last time Gen Z has been able to reach media attention. If anything, it is just the beginning of the major role Gen Z will play in our future. 

Let us know what you think about the Willow Project and Get Z’s influence, tag us on Twitter @VALLEYMag

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