Young people say climate concerns affect their daily lives

Young people say climate concerns affect their daily lives

LONDON – Young people are suffering “severe psychological distress” as a result of climate change and government inaction in the face of the crisis, according to a global study.

Nearly 45% of 10,000 young people polled in 10 countries for the study released Tuesday said anxiety and distress over the climate crisis was affecting their daily lives and their ability to function.

Three-quarters of respondents aged 16 to 25 felt that “the future is terrifying”, while 64% of young people said governments were not doing enough to avoid the climate crisis.

In fact, almost two-thirds of young people felt betrayed by governments and 61% said governments were not protecting them, the planet or future generations.

The study, reportedly the first large-scale research of its kind, was led by academics from the UK University of Bath and the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health. It is peer reviewed in the Lancet Planetary Health journal.

“Such high levels of distress, functional impact and feelings of betrayal will inevitably affect the mental health of children and youth,” the study’s authors warn.

He said that while climate anxiety may not be a mental illness per se, “the realities of climate change, along with government failures, are chronic, long-term and potentially inevitable stressors. in which mental health problems will worsen “. ”

Carolyn Hickman, a researcher at the Climate Psychology Alliance at the University of Bath and co-lead author of the study, said anxiety in children was a “perfectly rational response given the inadequate responses to climate change that they see from governments “.

In addition, Liz Marks, a senior lecturer at the University of Bath and another lead co-author of the study, said it was “shocking to hear how many young people around the world feel betrayed by people who are supposed to protect them ”. ”

“Now is the time to face the truth, listen to young people and take immediate action on climate change,” he said.

Young people in the Global South have expressed greater concern over the climate crisis, with 92% in the Philippines describing the future as “horrible”. However, 81% of young people surveyed in Portugal also expressed this level of concern, the highest rate among the northern countries included in the study. Portugal has seen an increase in forest fires in recent years amid high temperatures.

Meanwhile, data released at the end of August by UK market research firm Ipsos MORI revealed that public concern about climate change and pollution has reached record levels. This was based on a study of over 1,000 UK adults, which found 38% of people over 55 had increased concerns about the environment, compared to 24% of Britons aged 18 to 34. .

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