A spate of articles in recent weeks chronicle a startling rise in “eco-anxiety” among children, defined by the American Psychological Association as “a chronic fear of environmental doom” from climate change.
An “intense fear over the planet’s future” is “an increasingly common phenomenon among children and teenagers,” declared the BBC on April 22, a phenomenon stemming from constant exposure to predictions of possible catastrophic consequences from global climate change.
“Eco-anxiety can be caused by the stressful and frightening experience of watching the slow and seemingly irrevocable impacts of climate change unfold, and worrying about the future for oneself, children and later generations,” the BBC said, citing a report published by environmental organizations.
Boston-based GBH News has warned of a “second pandemic” of eco-anxiety among young people, asserting that the “menacing shadow” of climate change and governments’ failure to take action to fix it “is taking a mental toll” on children.
Many observers “predict climate change’s effects will mirror the pandemic and the unfair toll it took on communities of color,” the article asserts.
GBH cites Kelsey Hudson, a clinical psychologist and Boston University researcher, who said the younger generation has been “bombarded with images of climate disaster on social media — often while in pandemic isolation,” which has led to a feeling of helplessness and distress.
An April 20 article in Parents magazine said that children 6 to 12 years old are particularly “vulnerable to acute and chronic environmental stressors, and they’re more able to understand climate change and its anticipated impacts,” noting that fear of climate change “is impacting the healthy psychological development of children around the world.”
For its part, The Conversation reported that an entire generation of young people “are experiencing increased anxiety, grief, fear or guilt about the planet’s future as well as their own” due to exposure to “the grim realities of climate change.”
What is needed, the article argues, is to “encourage youth to fully accept the realities of our time — grim as they might be — as well as the anguish they feel over the many uncertainties and losses.”
These and many other recent articles all adopt the same approach to the problem of growing mental distress in young people over apocalyptic scenarios of future climate disasters. Each insists that some fear of climate change is necessary to make children active in combatting it, while simultaneously seeking ways to moderate the fear to avoid mental meltdowns.
Not one of these pieces suggests that exposure to other facts — such as the encouraging yearly drop in global weather-related deaths — could help children look to the future with greater hope and serenity.
And none blames the growing incidence of eco-anxiety among children on the climate change fear-mongering that reigns in the media, preferring instead to blame governments’ supposed inability to curb global warming.
It almost seems as if many, while wringing their hands over the impact of climate alarmism on children’s mental health, have resigned themselves to it as an unfortunate but necessary casualty in the war on climate change.
Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.