Three-quarters of young adults across the globe say that the “future is frightening,” and more than half believe that “humanity is doomed,” according to a huge new study published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health.
Researchers polled 10,000 people from 10 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia – all between the ages of 16 and 25 – in February and March, creating the largest bank of data about climate anxiety in young people to date.
Just under half (45 per cent) of respondents said climate anxiety and distress is affecting their daily lives and functioning. Even more worryingly, of the 81 per cent of respondents who said they share their concerns with others, nearly half said they were ignored or dismissed.
The study is the first to link emotional distress and perceived inadequate government response – 58 per cent felt that governments were “betraying me and/or future generations,” and 64 per cent said not enough is being done to avoid a climate catastrophe. (continued below)
Those living in poorer countries were the most likely to be concerned about climate change, despite having contributed to greenhouse gas emissions the least.
“This study paints a horrific picture of widespread climate anxiety in our children and young people,” Caroline Hickman, a researcher at the University of Bath in the UK and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “It suggests for the first time that high levels of psychological distress in youth is linked to government inaction.”
The study warns that “such high levels of distress, functional impact and feelings of betrayal will negatively affect the mental health of children and young people”. Because government inaction on climate change is so psychologically damaging, it may even violate international human rights law, the authors said.
Dr. Liz Marks, from the University of Bath’s Department of Psychology and co-lead author on the study, added: “It’s shocking to hear how so many young people from around the world feel betrayed by those who are supposed to protect them. Now is the time to face the truth, listen to young people, and take urgent action against climate change.”Internet Explorer Channel Network