Report: Young People Are Suffering ‘Climate Anxiety,’ Majority Think ‘Humanity Is Doomed’ 

Students participate in the Global Climate Strike march on September 20, 2019 in New York City. - Crowds of children skipped school to join a global strike against climate change, heeding the rallying cry of teen activist Greta Thunberg and demanding adults act to stop environmental disaster. It was expected …
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

A growing number of young people are combating “climate anxiety,” and a majority think “humanity is doomed,” according to a study  published in Lancet Planetary Health Tuesday.

According to the study, which authors claim is the most comprehensive study in the world analyzing “young people’s fear about the climate crisis,” 45 percent of 16-25-year-olds said, “climate-related anxiety and distress is affecting their daily lives and ability to function normally,” Vice News reported of the study.

Approximately 10,000 young people were surveyed across ten countries, 60 percent of which said national governments are “betraying” the present and future generations by not trying hard enough to save the planet. 

Fifty-six percent of people surveyed said they agreed with the statement that “humanity is doomed, “and 75 percent said the future is frightening.

Here is the percentage broken down by country of young people who believe “humanity is doomed.” (Notably, some of the world’s top polluters, like Russia and China, were not included in the list.) :

  • Australia: 50 percent
  • Brazil: 67 percent
  • France: 48 percent
  • Finland: 43 percent
  • India: 74 percent
  • Nigeria: 42 percent
  • Phillippines: 73 percent
  • Portugal: 62 percent
  • UK: 51 percent
  • US: 46 percent

“Our children’s anxiety is a completely rational reaction given the inadequate responses to climate change they are seeing from governments. What more do governments need to hear to take action?”said Caroline Hickman, co-lead author on the study from the University of Bath. 

Both the UK and the U.S. have very little faith in their governments compared to other countries to fend off the supposed ravages of climate change.

“Only 28 percent and 21 percent of young Brits and Americans thought the government could be trusted when it came to the planet – whereas 51 percent of Indians had faith in the authorities,” according to the report.

Co-founders of Climate Psychologists Megan Kennedy-Woodward and Dr Patrick Kennedy-Williams developed a list of recognizable climate anxiety symptoms — anxiety which the report’s authors called an “inescapable stressor.”

“Climate and eco anxiety blanket over a wide range of emotions that the climate crisis can provoke,” Kennedy-Woodward said. “Guilt, anger, grief, despair.”

“It can result in social withdrawal, sleep or concentration issues, to name a few. Clinically speaking, for younger children we aim to support parents to have meaningful and productive conversations with their kids,” Kennedy-Williams added.

In order to soothe apocalyptic fear, Kennedy Woodward suggested young people “lean into self-care” and “take social media and climate information breaks,” Vice reported.

According to the report, the authors of the study hope world governments realize how fragile climate change has made young people feel “rather than expecting young people to handle it alone.” The study’s authors wrote:

Public discourse should encourage the expression of feelings that 60 percent of young people in this survey have described as being ignored or dismissed. We argue that the failure of governments to adequately reduce, prevent, or mitigate climate change is contributing to psychological distress, moral injury and injustice.

As far as public discourse goes, leftist political figures in the U.S. have dialed up the fear around climate change.

Devout socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) once said: “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” She later said she was exaggerating the timeline to make a point. She recently defended  flying on a plane to New York because she had a “very tight schedule.”

In early September, the Biden administration’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate ,John Kerry, warned the world is “doomed” unless 20 countries take climate action. Notably, his family jet has flown at least 16 times this year, contributing to the very emission problem he preaches about eradicating.

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