Global citizens under the age of 25 roundly believe that governments are letting them down when it comes to an aggressive handling of global warming and dangerous weather — and they’re fed up with being told to meditate to cope.
Nearly 60% of young people surveyed said they were “very” or “extremely” worried about climate change, and 45% said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning, according to a study published Thursday in the science journal The Lancet Planetary Health.
“I grew up being afraid of drowning in my own bedroom,” said Mitzi Tan, a 23-year-old from the Philippines, who was featured in the study’s report. The query included 10,000 participants aged 16 to 25 across 10 countries: the U.S., the U.K., France, Finland, Australia, Portugal, India, Nigeria, the Philippines and Brazil.
“Society tells me that this anxiety is an irrational fear that needs to be overcome — one that meditation and healthy coping mechanisms will ‘fix,’” Tan said. “But that erases the accountability from those who are directly causing this fear. At its root, our climate anxiety comes from this deep-set feeling of betrayal because of government inaction. To truly address our growing climate anxiety, we need justice.”
Nearly two-thirds of young people said their governments were not doing enough to avoid a climate catastrophe, and 58% felt governments were “betraying me and/or future generations.”
Three-quarters of respondents said they believe “the future is frightening,” and 56% felt “humanity is doomed.”
Study authors contributed from the University of Bath, New York University Langone Health, Stanford University, the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and other academic institutions. They stressed the significance of the anxiety survey’s reach across several regions of the world.
In the U.S. alone, 2021 featured the hottest July ever recorded, the largest wildfire in California history amid a series of fires, and deadly Hurricane Ida’s devastating winds and flooding from the Gulf Coast up through parts of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
A separate study out earlier this year showed that four in 10 young people said they were reluctant to have their own children because of the impact of unchecked climate change, which has been found to aggravate typical natural disasters, erode coasts, kill crops, bring on respiratory issues and more.
“Our children’s anxiety is a completely rational reaction given the inadequate responses to climate change they are seeing from governments,” Caroline Hickman of the University of Bath said in a release. “What more do governments need to hear to take action?”
This week, by executive order, President Biden said he’ll use the economic might of the U.S. government to push greener initiatives toward net-zero emissions by 2050, including updating federal buildings and the fleet of government vehicles. Leading Republicans said that’s an inefficient way to expand cleaner energy markets, which should be private-sector driven and only be included alongside fossil fuels
that will position the U.S. as its own energy powerhouse.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that emissions from fossil fuels are the dominant cause of global warming, with about 89% of those emissions coming from traditional energy sources and industry.
The U.K. and the European Union are generally considered the leaders in climate-change policy, although not as fast as environmental advocates might like, while growing economic giants such as China and India have their own portfolios of green energy innovation but have pushed for a slow drawdown of the coal they largely depend on. In fact, their moderate language on coal was the late snag in otherwise mostly collaborative talks last month at the high-profile U.N. summit.
Those talks still failed to energize noted global teenage activist Greta Thunberg, who said the Glasgow conference takeaway was only more “Blah, blah, blah…”